Canned Spinnage

To paraphrase C. S. Lewis (Mr. Enlightenment), “If you say the same thing often enough, it ceases to be spinnage and becomes a fact.”

That’s the game plan followed by some of our tax-supported maritime authorities – the so-called “experts” – and believe it, their salaries come from the wallets of the nation’s taxpaying consumers.

The American Shipper provided a prime example of their con-game last week:

“S.C. port chief downplays transshipment impact”, the article began.

“Get ready, U.S. East Coast ports, the big ships are coming, warns James Newsome, head of the South Carolina State Ports Authority.

“Terminals with the right infrastructure and market attributes need to prepare for the arrival of super-sized containerships because the Panama Canal’s expansion in 2014 will not lead, as many port experts predict, to the proliferation of transshipment hubs in the Caribbean, Newsome said Monday.

“A widespread belief among maritime analysts is that only a small percentage of the 10,000- to 14,000-TEU vessels now entering liner service will call at East Coast ports from Asia, with most transshipments being ferried on 4,500- to 8,000-TEU vessels to the mainland from connecting like Kingston, Jamaica, with deep harbors. Many ports have navigation channels of 42 feet, or more, which is sufficient to handle these ship sizes, industry officials say.

“Load centering, they argue, allows carriers to serve multiple ports by using large vessels for economies of scale across the ocean and transferring shipments to smaller vessels, thereby saving many ports from having to make massive infrastructure investments.

“However, Newsome challenged the notion that carriers don’t want to bring their megaships to the East Coast. In a conference call with American Shipper’s editorial team, he pointed out transshipment adds cost to freight transportation because of the extra handling required …”

So far so good, Mr. Newsome, but the punch line at the end of the American Shipper article punches a hole in your feigned concern that “transshipment adds cost to freight transportation …”

“The Port of Charleston has the deepest harbor in the U.S. Southeast for the moment,” American Shipper reminds us, “and aims to get deeper if can obtain federal funding to dredge the channel to the sea.”

So we taxpaying consumers are supposed to believe that we can’t afford the cost of “transshipment” down in the Caribbean, but we will be able to afford the cost of dredging the Port of Charleston and, no doubt, other “U.S. East Coast ports”? C. S. Lewis would have a field day with that one.