All Hands on Deck!

Here’s what Shippers’ Voice had to say about Eivind Kolding’s speech at the TOC conference earlier this month:

“Change in the liner shipping sector is long overdue: it is about time someone among the world’s top 20 line shipping operators broke ranks and tried to do something big to improve the business.

“In a unilateral campaign, the largest shipping liner operator, Maersk Line, part of the giant AP Moeller Group, has set a challenge to the industry to revolutionize the way it does business. Chief Executive Officer, Eivind Kolding, stated that reliability is not good enough, the industry is too complicated for customers and transparency of its environmental performance and record needs to be greatly improved.

“What Mersk says is nothing new: shippers and their representatives have been saying such things for many years. What we could applaud, however, is the fact that Maersk has gone public, on its own, heavily criticizing the industry and itself. They must now surely change for the better – judged by their customers, or else face a vicious onslaught of criticism from customers, the wider industry and the media: if they don’t change the way they do business for the better, then no one will ever believe a word these people say again. The question now is just how long will people give them to change?

“The views of the company are set out on its website and within a document; it also contains blogs where anyone can comment on the different aspects of the vision for the future of liner shipping. Some that have offered their views are clearly far from being convinced that this is nothing more than a PR exercise, and will only be impressed if it is followed quickly by action which improves their customer satisfaction and all round experiences as customers.

“Even if you think significant changes cannot be achieved by Maersk alone, and that the rest will make sure that this becomes doomed to failure, you surely cannot but admire the nerve of Maersk. It is a big, bold and brassy initiative, and for that the Shippers’ Voice applauds it; but, it will be the results which count, and for those we must await the shippers’ verdict.” –

So far we’ve heard from The Wall Street Journal, The Journal of Commerce, and the Shippers’ Voice, and all are saying pretty much the same thing. “The CEO is right … It’s what we’ve been saying all along … It’s about time someone at the top agrees with us, etc., etc., etc.” But what none of them have been spelling out all along are the changes that Maersk and the other top dogs should be making. The ship is sinking and each on is yelling for the others to do something.

“Hopes of recovery are fading fast” were yesterday’s headlines at Lloyd’s List, yet no one – not even the repentant Mr. Kolding – knows how to avert the oncoming crash.

They’re speeding straight toward a precipice and still they keep their feet on the gas pedal.