Short Sea Shipping (A review of Vol. XXXIV, Art. 33)

In Vol. IX, Art. 27, which is titled “A Fitting Solution” in the Trends & Developments segment of this website, we noted that Mr. Chuck Raymond, former CEO of Horizon Lines, had endorsed Short Sea Shipping as an efficient and cost-effective way of transporting intermodal cargo containers from one U.S. port to another, and from one U.S. coastal region to another. In the past he had directed attention to the unacceptable levels of pollution generated by truck traffic as well as to the heavy cost of building new highways. As opposed to pre-existing, and therefore cost-free, coastal waterways, Mr. Raymond reminded us a number of years ago that new highway construction costs approximately $ 32 million per mile. Increasing the number of container-handling ports, therefore, will not only reduce unacceptable levels of pollution but would also provide more efficient service and lower costs to a greater number of end users. Until we embrace Mr. Raymond’s reasoning, and until more ports are set up to receive containers, problems with air pollution and the cost of goods will continue to increase.

A few weeks later, in our Vol. X, Art. 35 commentary, just after authorities at the Port of Long Beach asserted that “Trains are two to four times more fuel-efficient for transporting cargo than trucks, and tend to move loads for fewer dollars than either big-rigs or airplanes,” Alameda Corridor Chief Executive John Doherty – the man who oversees the passage of dozens of daily trainloads of containers along the Corridor – corrected that erroneous thinking by confirming that “trains can’t compete with trucks on trips under 800 miles. It takes $ 200 to truck a container 20 miles,” he stated, “but it’s $ 450 on a train.”

As a comparative cost, water transport is one-tenth the cost of truck transport.

One version of the Short Sea Shipping vessels we’ve designed and patented will do the work of 424 trucks or 212 rail cars, greatly reducing the cost of goods, the level of air pollution, and the wear and tear on our stressed highway system, and hundreds of these needed vessels could be built every year in U.S. shipyards.

Currently, Short Sea Shipping moves about 6% of the nation’s freight tonnage. In Europe, Short Sea Shipping vessels move 41% of freight tonnage. In both the U.S. and Europe, the end user wants his goods delivered on time, at an affordable price, and with careful handling while en route. On time deliveries and careful handling are services promised by all carriers – truck, train and ship – but the development and advancement of Short Sea Shipping on U.S. waterways has been curtailed by the extra time it takes to sort and retrieve containers from conventionally-structured container carrying vessels. Time is money, and such delays adversely affect the profit margin in U.S. Short Sea Shipping operations, thereby discouraging investment in vessels of this type.

Our shipboard patented storage and retrieval system, on the other hand, will provide instantaneous storage and retrieval of any container, regardless of its location on the vessel, and this rapid method of operation will at long last guarantee generous profits for the vessel’s owner and operator, as well as for investors.