Hurricane Matthew caused extensive damage at the Freeport container terminal, forcing carriers to reroute vessels and take other steps to deliver cargo.
Source: Freeport Container Port Company
Container lines say they are using Port Freeport in the Bahamas on a limited basis and routing some vessels to other ports until damage suffered during Hurricane Matthew one month ago is repaired.
The storm knocked out power and several ship-to-shore cranes, according to officials at several ocean carriers that utilize the container terminal as a transshipment hub for the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Freeport Container Terminal is operated by Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH). Two of its three berths are functioning – one that is used for large post-Panamax vessels up to 8,000 TEUs, and another that is used for smaller feeder vessels – Manuel Ruiz, Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s (MSC) managing director for the Bahamas, said in a statement provided to American Shipper.
As of Wednesday, three of the port’s large cranes were operating at full capacity along with a mobile harbor crane. HPH is planning to bring in two mobile cranes in the next few weeks to increase loading and unloading capability until two of the port’s main cranes can be fixed and set up on the wharf again, Ruiz said.
All services skipped Freeport in October, but the Lone Star service, operated by the 2M Alliance – comprised of Maersk Line and MSC – appears to be skipping the port until the end of November, according to data from ocean carrier schedule and capacity database BlueWater Reporting.
The MSC-Zim String 1, which calls the U.S. East Coast and South America East Coast, bypassed Freeport and made an alternate stop in Cristobal during the month of October, according to BlueWater Reporting.
MSC, the world’s second-largest container shipping line, has made extensive efforts to minimize disruption to its customers.
“We still have eight services calling at Freeport weekly and are using a number of ports in the vicinity to ensure there is no major disruption to our network and that we can continue to meet the high expectations of our customers,” Ruiz said.
Sherry Brookes, a Hutchison spokesperson in the Bahamas, was unable to provide any update on conditions at the port.
Maersk Line spokeswoman Katherine Mosquera declined to provide details about how the Danish shipping line is dealing with the situation.
SeaLand, Maersk Line’s inter-regional liner operation, has been able to sustain some cargo business in Freeport by using its own geared vessels until the situation is normalized, Communications Manager Kiera Kramer said via e-mail.
PortMiami expects to see a bump in its October cargo volumes because of some repositioning of vessel traffic out of Freeport, Deputy Port Director Kevin Lynsky said.
In September, the South Florida port handled 79,340 TEUs.