Ocean shipping companies are doing their bit to fight the empty container crisis. The latest example of a shipping line combatting the empties build-up is Maersk. It has demonstrated its commitment to help the Australian container logistics industry by deploying a massive ship to Botany and Melbourne specifically to pick-up empties.
The Denmark-flagged Soroe Maersk (IMO: 9166780) left Laem Chabang, Thailand, on approximately March 5 and arrived at Port Botany on March 27. It then stayed in port until March 29 where, according to NSW Ports, it “loaded 3,756 empty containers, or roughly 40% of its total capacity of 9,578 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units”.
The ship arrived in Melbourne on April 3, where it picked up more empty containers, and stayed for about another two days and a few hours. It is now en-route to its next destinations in Vietnam and Mainland China, according to NSW Ports. AIS trackers indicate it is en-route to the port of Vung Tau (near Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam and it is expected to arrive there on April 17.
The 1999-built Soroe Maersk has a gross tonnage of 92,198 gt, a carrying capacity of 8,160 TEU, a draught of 10.5 meters, a length overall of 346.98 meters and a width of 42.8 meters, according to MarineTraffic.com.
Massive financial support for Australian container logistics
This represents a substantial investment by the shipping line in terms of the general operational costs of a ship. Then there’s the opportunity cost of the missed freight to consider. The Shanghai Shipping Exchange is indicating a current spot-market rate of 1493 index points on the Shanghai-Australia route and 948 index points on the backhaul Australia-Shanghai route. Meanwhile, the Freightos Baltic Composite Index (another spot market index) is, at the time of writing, quoting a price of $4,164 per forty-foot container (it should be noted some routes on the FBCI have a considerably higher rate).
Shipping lines export huge volumes of empties out of Botany
Ocean shipping lines generally have been doing their bit to help fight the empty container management crisis.
The blue line to the left shows the volumes of empties being exported out of Port Botany on a monthly basis for the 12 months ending February 2021 (data source is NSW Ports trade reports).
Meanwhile, the red-dotted line is a trend-line showing best fit. It’s clear from the graph that – despite assertions to the contrary from certain parties in the supply chain – ocean shipping companies are clearly doing their bit to help fight the empty container crisis.