When the expanded Panama Canal opened for commercial operations in 2016, the prospects for easier access between Asia and the U.S. East Coast looked set to provide a major boost to east-west trade. Initial trial runs using the 13,100 TEU capacity Maersk Edinburgh proved successful and a combination of vessel design enhancements and adjustments to permitted vessel beam and draft have gradually allowed the benchmark to be tweaked upwards.
The recent operation in the North Sea to salvage the car carrier Freemantle Highway has further underlined the potential hazards involved in shipment of electric cars. The vessel’s charterer, Japan’s K Line has confirmed that of the 3,738 new and second-hand vehicles onboard, there were 498 new electric cars.
As a Volvo owner and enthusiast of many years, I noted the recent headline “Volvo shifts to renewable fuels for ocean freight”. The article went on to explain that every year tens of thousands of containers of production material destined for Volvo factories are carried across the world’s oceans on container ships. In the future, most of these voyages are to be executed using renewable fuel instead of traditional fossil fuel. In so doing the company aims to achieve an immediate reduction in fossil fuel CO2 emissions from ocean freight of 55,000 tons over a year and spark increased demand for carbon-efficient ocean transportation.
The Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington rejoined the U.S. Navy last month following an extended six-year overhaul. Her 6 year extended absence from active service, 2 years longer than scheduled, was itself controversial. However, the death of 9 crew members during that time, several on account of suicides including 3 in a tragic single week, prompted calls for a significant improvement in onboard conditions during maintenance periods.
With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the security of the Canadian Arctic has come sharply into focus. Neither Canada or the United States has the maritime assets to mount any sort of resistance to Russian encroachment on the Canadian North and is unlikely to have the means any time soon.