A Cakewalk

“No to 100% box scans” was the lead-in to a Lloyds list Comment on Monday, April 26, 2010.

“There are few issues in international shipping on which one finds almost universal agreement across the world,” the comment began, ” but the US’ legislation calling for 100% scanning on all US-destined containers at their ports of loading is universally derided.

“The overwhelming opinion of almost anyone with some sort of function in the global container supply trade is that the proposals are more likely to give world trade a heart attack than effectively protect the US from container-borne terrorism.

“It is not the first time this paper (Lloyds List) has echoed that view, but it is interesting to observe how the legislation forces the political leaders of other countries – particularly those for whom shipping is such an integral economic activity – to perform gymnastic flights of philosophical argument.

“Reading the text of Singapore Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington earlier this month, it was very difficult not to infer that he believes, on balance, that the benefits from increased security override the particular difficulties these might cause in the supply chain. Certainly that was the message for an audience comprising the world’s leaders …”

But … in order to set the record straight, even though the toady Minister’s toes were stepped upon … “Singapore’s department for transport wrote to clarify: the message for our readership was that 100% scanning ‘is an impractical approach’. This highlights the difficulties of running a city-state underpinned by container terminal volumes, with ambitions of being a premier maritime hub, and plotting a course that keeps it on the right side of the major trading blocs.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if the U.S., on the one hand, and the rest of the international shipping industry, on the other, could all have their cake and eat it too? Well, they can. In our Vol. II, Art. 19 (in mid-February of 2005) we wrote;

“Although this website is dedicated to terminal operations, if ultimate security is ever required it can be obtained by means of our shipboard storage and retrieval system. Our ‘Chronology’ page makes reference to U.S. Patent Number 5,860,783, Granted on Jan. 19, 1999, and Entitled: CARGO CONTAINER STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEM AND METHOD INCLUDING ON DECK CARRIAGE ASSEMBLY. This shipboard system makes it possible to retrieve, or store, any single container, regardless of its location aboard the vessel, without handling any other container. As an added advantage, the system allows for the scanning/inspection of every container while the vessel is en route to our shores. The procedure can be completed in one week’s time, and prior to arrival at our ports, every safe container will be granted clearance, and any suspect containers may very well be jettisoned. The threat to ‘deepsix’ offenders will be enough to discourage terrorists …” and will certainly mollify those who insist upon 100% scanning, as well as those who oppose 100% scanning.