SHIPPING lines are reconsidering voyage plans in face of the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, the biggest storm in 10 years, that was threatening to devastate the Florida coast.
The US Coast Guard has placed all South Florida Ports, including Port Everglades, under Hurricane Port Readiness Condition X-Ray and expects to set Port Readiness Condition Yankee later.
"Under Condition Yankee, SeaLand will not be allowed to receive any containers either loaded or empty. We will be open to deliver imports and empties to the truckers," said SeaLand.
"If we have any additional updates, we will continue to communicate with you. You will be informed directly by your local representative if there is impact to your shipments," SeaLand told shippers.
Hurricane Matthew made landfall over Haiti, bringing 20 to 40 inches of rain and a storm surge of up to 10 feet near the epicentre. Its wind speeds were in the range of 150 mph, reported Maritime Executive of Fort Lauderdale.
After Haiti, the storm tracked north-northwest past Cuba and along the coast of Florida, passing the world's busiest cruise ports at Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Jacksonville cargo operator TOTE Services, whose 1,200-TEU El Faro went down with all hands in Hurricane Joaquin last year, said it had no public plans to alter its sailings.
The company said that it Jacksonville-based TOTE Services whose con/ro vessel El Faro went down with all hands during Hurricane Joaquin last year told local news in Florida that it trusted its officers to make the right decisions regarding weather.
"Our captains have control and authority to alter course for any purpose, weather, crew illness, or to assist another ship at sea," said the company.
TOTE did not mention any plan to cancel or reroute sailings of the newbuild container vessels Isla Bella and Perla del Caribe, scheduled to pass through the storm track.
In investigative proceedings regarding the sinking of the El Faro, TOTE Services managers emphasised that weather routing decisions are ultimately the responsibility of each vessel's master. TOTE reiterated that position Tuesday in a statement to NBC News, saying that
The Perla del Caribe departed Jacksonville at 1630 hours local time, bound for San Juan. The Isla Bella remained moored in Puerto Rico as of 1900 hours.
Crowley Maritime, which operates a liner service, announced that it would instruct its vessels to remain in port or change course as needed to stay clear of the storm.
It published a notice warning of disruption to shipments in the Caribbean including cargo on its runs to Puerto Rico as it takes steps to reroute or cancel sailings.
Crowley also expects disruption to services to Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, Central America and the Caribbean islands. The firm included an image of the storm's forecast track to illustrate its decision.
Said Carnival Cruise Line: "We are keeping the ship out of harm's way and providing guests with a safe and enjoyable vacation experience," the firm said. It added that Carnival Elation, Ecstasy, Pride, Victory and Splendour will all have altered routes to account for the storm.
Disney's Disney Dream said it will go to Cozumel rather than the Bahamas. "We are always prepared to visit alternate ports or spend days at sea to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests."
Likewise, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas will call San Juan instead of Coco Cay in the Bahamas, and its Majesty of the Seas will go to Key West instead of Nassau.
On shore, state officials in Florida are bracing for the effects of Matthew. "Hurricane Matthew is a life-threatening category four hurricane and we must all take it seriously," said Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Source : SN – TR, 10.10.16.