Virtually all container ships en route to Rotterdam that were stuck in the Suez Canal in March have now called at the port. In total, the port of Rotterdam expected 64 ships to be stuck in traffic. Of this “Suez armada”, 54 ships have arrived and departed, two are now in port and three arrivals have been cancelled, reports the Port Authority.

In March, the container ship Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking the important shipping route for almost a week. Hundreds of other ships that also wanted to sail through the Egyptian Canal were forced to wait until the vessel was refloated.

Suez consultation

After the blockade was lifted, the Port of Rotterdam anticipated extra pressure when catching up. That is why port parties, such as container terminals, shipowners, the inland shipping industry and transport associations set up the so-called Suez consultation to work together.

The consultation led to improved use of the existing infrastructure outside the terminals. Empty containers at the depots were used more, and the restricted delivery times at the terminals resulted in a more efficient supply of full containers. The consultative panel also attempted a shift to more overnight and weekend distribution, but this was not really a success.

‘The system operated well and there were no problems, demonstrating that Rotterdam is more than capable of handling any logistics challenges, from a Suez Armada, Covid-19 or a prolonged period of snow or wind. However, the terminals remain extremely busy due to all these disruptions,’ says Steven Lak, chairman of the Logistics Alliance umbrella organisation. ‘As this is set to persist in the coming months, it is vital that we continue to address and discuss the various congestion signals in the market.’

Ever Given seized

The Ever Given itself also had the port of Rotterdam as its destination. The ship never arrived there, because Egyptian authorities seized it, claiming damages of 900 million dollars. The ship is being detained in the Canal’s Great Bitter Lake. Last week, a court rejected an appeal by the Japanese owner against the seizure.

Also read: Container ship that blocked Suez Canal seized by Egypt

Source (in part): ANP

Picture by Roman Boed.