OOCL suspends cargo shipping at affected ports

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 March, 2011, 12:00am

Orient Overseas Container Lines, the shipping company controlled by the Tung family, has suspended the shipment of cargoes to Sendai, Hitachinaka and Kashima following the devastating tsunami that hit the northeast coast of Japan on Friday.

In an advisory to customers, the firm said containerised shipments destined for these ports would be unloaded in Tokyo or Yokohama until the three ports were back working normally.

Ken Cambie, chief financial officer of OOCL parent Orient Overseas (International), said Japan accounted for about 10 per cent of OOCL's total global volumes. While OOCL's Tokyo office was temporarily closed and the company was reworking its shipping schedules, he said the company was 'not expecting any dramatic impact on business'.

The firm said: 'Up to now, we are still evaluating the impact of the export cargoes from the affected areas.'

Cambie said about 500 laden and empty damaged containers at Sendai were likely to be written off. He said the second-hand value of a container was around US$1,500. Container depots were generally in good shape and aside from minor repairs, 'berths and cranes were all OK and operational'. But he also pointed out that road and rail links to the Sendai and the two other ports were adversely affected.

Force majeure was declared on cargo onboard the 6,500 teu (20-foot equivalent unit) container ship NYK Themis. Cambie said this meant that cargo destined for Sendai was unloaded in Tokyo, where it became the customer's responsibility to make delivery arrangements. He said none of OOCL's ships had been affected and one that was at berth had departed before the tsunami struck.

Pacific Basin Shipping said one of its handysize vessels, the 32,773 deadweight tonne Port Pegasus, was berthed at Onahama, 112 nautical miles southwest of the epicentre of the earthquake and 87 nautical miles south of Sendai port.

Jan Rindbo, chief operating officer, said: 'When the tsunami struck, the vessel experienced heavy swell waves. The captain and crew used the vessel's engine and steering for about 18 hours and had to manoeuvre the vessel to keep her at the berth.