In The News

Item 1. A new chapter has been added to the history of container development. Although Malcolm McLean, in the mid-50’s, was the original designer of intermodal containers, only recently has it occurred to enterprising minds to put these boxes to other practical uses. Quite early they were serving as improvised homes in underdeveloped countries, and shortly thereafter they rapidly caught on in the UK as storage units. Just recently, architect Mark Strauss won the national design award in a competition sponsored by the Boston Society of Architects. Built primarily of shipping containers, his crescent-shaped complex was built on an 18.6 acre site in the middle of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and consisted of 351 dwellings, each built from four containers, along with 170,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, a hotel, and 27,700 sq. ft. of community facilities. [Mr. McLean would have loved this guy.]

Item 2. In the very first paragraph of the U.S. State Department’s paper submitted at the OECD Workshop in Paris last month, this comment on congestion appears: “While the nature of the immediate problem may be particular to the United States, all countries are facing the challenge of accommodating the substantial growth of freight moving along their roads, railways, and waterways”. The Freight Transport Association in the UK, acknowledging that congestion in its ports is some of the worst ever experienced, has launched a new group which aims to unclog the logjams. Dr. Andrew Traill, the FTA’s Head of Maritime Cargo Policy stated, “This is something that cannot be resolved by any single group. Shippers, ports, shipping lines, rail freight operators, Network Rail, the Highway Agency, and others all need to work together to sort things out, planning together appropriate actions to ensure the traffic keeps moving.” [This echoes the advice each one of us is giving to the guy next to him. But as Chuck Mack wondered, “It’s perplexing why no one is stepping up to the plate. Everyone is afraid to make the first move.”]

Item 3. News Article Headlined: “‘Deutschland Shows Its Frustration’ — German cruise ship Deutschland became a symbol of the potential cost to US commerce resulting from the USCG’s strict enforcement of security rules last month when it bypassed the port of New Orleans. The 600-passenger capacity, Peter Deilmann-owned vessel was on the Caribbean leg of a round-the-world cruise when the decision was taken to miss out the US port rather than face delays that would result from a promised Coast Guard inspection. The cruise originated in Santo Domingo on 22 November and had made uneventful stops at Miami and Key West when the line was informed that the ship had become a “high interest vessel” and would be boarded and searched if it entered US waters again. The captain chose to bypass New Orleans in favor of the next destination in Mexico. That decision cost Louisiana tour operators, caterers, golf courses and other vendors thousands of dollars. The Coast Guard doesn’t have to explain why vessels are targeted except to say it was “routine”. The planned boarding was appealed but to no avail.” — End of news article. [The “Tampa” was boarded on the 27th of November, you’ll recall, and the Chairman of Wallenius Wilhelmsen accused USCG inspectors of inappropriate behavior. This latest event, though, has aggrieved the locals more than the intended guests. We said it before … we could get a lot more flies with honey … ]