Unexpected Routing Changes of Cargo

Cargo ship terminal, Unloading crane of cargo ship terminal, Industrial port with containers and container ship.

Why do routing changes occur unexpectedly?

Let’s face it, even when they are planned, changes are rarely welcomed. And how will these changes influence the supply chain and logistics industries and ultimately the businesses that rely on cargo shipping?

Here are some reasons why routing changes may occur:

Hazards in navigation

They may consist of a number of floating objects, including floating ice, mines pulled from moorings, fishing nets, barrels, and floating trees. These obstructions force the vessel’s course to be altered. Additionally, strands and reefs are two of the most frequent risks encountered in practice.

Technical difficulties at the port

Indeed, this is a pretty common cause of delay that is rarely covered in the news. This is especially true in developing countries, where outdated equipment, a lack of certification and scheduled inspections, and non-compliance with safety standards all lead to an emergency situation at some point. And occasionally, it occurs as a result of terminal crew negligence. Bear in mind that this could happen with your shipment, so do not rule out the possibility of insurance. Additionally, certain insurance companies insure risks associated with late freight delivery due to specific situations.

Technical issue with the vessel

There are over 120 thousand parts in a single spaceship engine. Each of them has the risk of failure. The ship will be unable to continue its voyage due to thousands of technical problems. Transferring the ship that is not moving to the closest port for repairs, plus the time required for repairs, could take a month or more. If your goods are shipped in containers, they may be transshipped at the port of transhipment on another vessel, but only if the country or port is serviced by the appropriate shipping line.

Weekends and vacations

Today, about 60% of all ports worldwide operate without holidays or weekends, as ship and freight company work planning becomes more efficient and the profitability of all parties involved increases. However, a sizable number of ports continue to have weekend halts, which obviously affects the speed of commodities delivery. There is even a concept of Sshex/Sshinc (Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays omitted/included) in ship chartering, where days off and holidays are either excluded from laytime (no freight work) or are included (freight works are produced). 

Congestion on the port’s or terminal’s pier

This is frequently the case when a big number of containers arrive at the port (exceeding the norm with a reserve). This is especially true in transhipment ports, where transit cargoes account for a far bigger share of total traffic than import-export cargoes. As a result of this phenomenon, the vessel is required to delay the commencement of cargo operations until the job of the preceding cargoes is done.

Observation of the port

Operators of vessels may choose to exclude ports from their schedules for operational reasons. In these cases, goods will almost certainly be offloaded at another port.

The words port omission and blank sailing are used to refer to schedule exclusions. Timetable deviations occur when a ship is unable to keep to its intended schedule due to unforeseeable factors such as inclement weather, port congestion, or mechanical difficulties.

When a vessel operator decides to skip or omit a single port from the Long-Term Schedule, this is referred to as a Port Omission (LTS). An LTS is derived from the final Proforma Schedule and includes precise vessel and journey numbers that are published at least 12 weeks prior to the start of a given voyage.

The ocean line service provider may elect to ‘blank’ a particular port or region, but when a Vessel Sharing Agreement (VSA) partner announces a blank sailing, they are typically referring to the cancellation of an entire sailing. When this occurs, the LTS or Coastal Schedule (CS) travel number is retained for internal cost allocation and reporting purposes. All scheduled port calls along the route have been “blanked.”

Schedule exceptions can arise at any time, which is why logistics and supply chains in the VSA partnership should maintain real-time operational schedules.

The current weather conditions

In the event that your cargo is transported by sea, the influence of hydrometeorological components on the ship’s maneuverability has the most direct impact on the conditions of delivery. In the event of adverse weather conditions, deviation from the route may result in additional time costs and a possible delay of 1-2 weeks in delivery timetables in severe storms. As a result of the storm, this period may be extended.

What you can do for rerouted cargo

Even if freight forwarders advise their customers in advance of unforeseeable events, it may be too late for them to take any practical precautions.

A strong communication system with the carrier or a representative of the carrier can also aid the customer in gaining advance notification of potential blank sailings or other delays.

Even if it is more expensive than sea freight, having a backup transit option for such situations may assist businesses in resolving these issues.

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