Severe Weather Report

Severe Weather in the winter of 2013/14

We have been experiencing a most abnormal spell of adverse weather throughout the UK, and we, as part of the shipping industry, have been affected significantly.

Firstly, these storms have had a detrimental effect on our operations at sea.

Measures are put in place to ‘cope’ with a certain amount of storm conditions, especially at this time of year, but due to the nature, intensity and duration of the recent storms we have endured, such plans that have been tried and tested in previous seasons became ineffective, and Carriers and their crews have found themselves in conditions unique in historical terms.

This has not only affected the transit of the vessels, but also the rotation and integrity of departures and arrivals from origin and destination.

When vessels arrive in UK waters, the weather has continued to affect port landings and discharge. For example ship’s pilots experiencing difficulty in boarding. Problems with docking. Equipment damage to both shore bound and vessel’s tackle.

Thankfully, our customers have been sensitive to this in light of media interest and reporting.

The biggest handicap for the ports have been the severity and frequency of Europe wide gale force winds that have been hitting our and near Continental shores.

Due to the height and vulnerability of the cranes, even with moderate wind speeds, the ports have to be conscious of the effect these may have on equipment and safety. Consequently their operations have been shut down a lot more often than usual

This inevitably had a further knock effect and then with hauliers ability to be able to get on quay and collect the containers – subsequently causing unprecedented congestion at the port (in the reduced windows of operation when they briefly open), added to haulage delays caused by the vast amount of containers that build up on quay with difficulties in accessing and collecting them.

These have caused massive inconvenience to our customers

Rail operations have also been affected by the closures, congestion and weather, and a lot of customers who have containers railed from a port to an inland depot get the same problems with rail closures, trains being cancelled and the simple fact that the containers are not off the vessel when they should be.

Needless to say, the booking and execution of deliveries is drastically hindered by the above issues.

Consequently many of our deliveries have had to be re-booked numerous times, causing further vexation for our customers, and with the continued uncertainty of when the ports ‘may’ re-open, our staff can only presume if any of the re-bookings will in fact go ahead or not, leading to even more inadequate and changing information for our customers.

When on the road fallen debris such as trees, telegraph poles and the like, added to flooding, accidents, congestion and closures mean that drivers have come up against numerous obstacles in trying to get the goods to our customers in a timely manner

In light of the events of the last 3 months, we highly recommend that customers who don’t insure their goods, to reconsider having their own policy, or alternatively speak to one of our operators about our own liability insurance as this could safeguard any potential losses suffered – a lot of companies make the assumption that their goods are automatically covered by Neptune, however this is not the case, and if goods do happen to be unavoidably damaged or lost, without suitable insurance, neither Neptune or our Carriers can be held accountable.

Thankfully, we do currently seem to be having a reprieve from the ‘severe’ side of the weather, and hopefully things are getting back to an acceptable state, but if we do face any more irregular weather than what is considered normal, at least the above might offer a small appreciation of what we are all up against with regards to the challenges that we face, and ask for your patience and understanding.