Ocean cargo: Getting ready for “super-slow” steaming

The short-term repercussions are already being felt, and given the short peak season, not insignificant.

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While “slow steaming” is unquestionably good for the environment, many analysts are questioning whether it is beneficial to shippers.

By cutting the knot speed to save money, vessel operators are also contributing to the global container shortage. The short-term repercussions are already being felt, and given the short peak season, not insignificant.

But we wonder what the long-term strategic impact will be. Does this mean a cultural shift that will result in a sudden escalation of rates? Coming at a time when the Federal Maritime Commission is planning on dismantling price-fixing cartels, the paradox could not be more profound.

At the same time, transportation fuel prices continue to rise. With more than 10 percent of the world’s box fleets idle this year, the revival will also be slowed, say industry sources.

How does 12 knots sound? Not particularly appealing to shippers hoping to regain some velocity in the supply chain. Yet, that’s what we may be in for in 2011: “super-slow steaming.”


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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