Thursday, August 11, 2011

US Container Feeder Service Expands to Carry Extra Freight Tonnages

US Container Feeder Service Expands to Carry Extra Freight Tonnages AFL Agrees to New Build Purchases
Shipping News Feature

US - American Feeder Lines (AFL) has an avowed intent to build a short sea container feeder service unashamedly built on the successful European model. As a successful, and now essential, link in the logistics supply chain across the diverse geography of Europe the US has never exploited the container feeder service system to the same extent. Now AFL say they intend to facilitate the deployment of freight cargo offloading in huge quantities from the new generation of larger container vessels.

This week AFL confirmed they are sticking to their expansion plans by signing letters of intent with two shipyards in the US for the building of ten 1,300 teu US-flag feeder vessels destined to be deployed on the US East coast trade within the Portland/Galveston corridor. All feeder ships working within US waters have laboured under the conditions outlined in the ‘Jones Act’, actually the Merchant Marine Act, a piece of legislation that looks like a straight case of restrictive practice to a foreign eye, stating as it does, that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.

This clear case of cabotage restriction is now (and has been for some time) under review costing, as it does, citizens in far flung American provinces exorbitant amounts over and above the cost if competition was allowed. Meanwhile companies like AFL can afford the luxury of expansion in a relatively uncompetitive market and the group looks set to further expand its feeder fleet again in the near future with plans tabled to increase vessel numbers to fifteen.