Thursday, February 3, 2011

Export Containers Still Delayed By Rhine Barge Accident

Trial Shipments Yesterday to Assess Safety
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – The accident on 13th January when the 360 foot tanker Waldhof capsized near Wiesbaden with her cargo of 2,400 tonnes of sulphuric acid is still causing problems for bulk freight and container barges travelling both up and down stream. Trial shipments were allowed Northbound yesterday to assess the effect of their wakes on the stricken ship which is being supported by floating cranes whilst her cargo is being discharged.

Two of the four crewmen aboard the Antwerp bound Waldhof are still missing and the ship, owned by shipping and logistics group Lehnkering who specialise in waterborne freight, sank when the vessel turned on a particularly tight bend, causing almost a complete blockage of the waterway for weeks with the Southbound side reopening to vessels under 135 metres only a few days ago.

Several hundred vessels have been stranded costing their owners thousands of Euro’s per day but spot rates have been unchanged during the crisis, mainly due to this being the traditional quiet period for Rhine traffic. Rates are widely expected to rise when the accident situation is resolved.

The hope is that when all the cargo has been transhipped the Waldhof can be refloated using the barge mounted cranes. The Rhine carries over a million TEU annually and is a highway for over 170 million tonnes of cargo every year passing through Germany en route for several neighbouring countries. A press release by the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine explains the full situation and up to date reports can be seen on their website.