About that ETA

I was mate on a tug/barge in SE Alaska and one time I was out on the barge tying up in Ketchikan at about 0600 hrs.

The only person there to meet us was the owner and before we were even done making the barge fast he started giving me grief about the ETA being wrong.

I was somewhat taken aback because until then I’d never heard the ETA discussed or even mentioned. Turns out the captain had told the owner we were going to arrive at 0300 hrs and the owner had gotten out of bed three hours too early to meet us.

I spend a lot of time at sea watching the weather and thinking about the ETA.

Started this thread a while ago:

ETAs are sometimes associated with risk taking and commercial pressure, there is that but there is also a purely technical side. Accurate ETAs can reduce schedule pressure in some cases.

That’s a good insight and agree eta can have several consequences.

When I Was a trade manager based in Australia we were approached by local press that was going to measure carriers base on ETA’s They asked for ETA & they were going to publish “Average ETA performance” no mention of deviation from published, very different thing. Or when in the voyage ETA was going to be published.

Our voyage Europe, East Coast US, Panama Transit, New Zealand, then Australia. Half way around the world with multiple stops timing mostly out of our control,

Waited until the master reported departure New Zealand Then had the trade assistants notify press of ETA using my variable criteria. They did not specify arrival territorial waters, pilot on board, docking, commence cargo operation or cargo available for delivery.

Needless to say we had near perfect ETA performance


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ETA - Also known as “Premeditated Sandbagging”.

On a coastwise, the type of arrival, ETA ( Estimated Time of Arrival) or RTA (Requested Time of Arrival) depends in large part on labor costs associated with that port.

In a country with high labor costs a car ship will often have a RTA based on berthing, working cargo, then sailing using only the day shift. The ship is expected to be alongside and ready for cargo at 0700 or 0800 and once cargo ops are complete the ship will sail, again adjusting the speed to arrive at the next port in time to start cargo for day shift work.

It’s like being a cog in a giant machine.

Ports with low labor costs on the other hand are more likely to use ETAs and are often “pilot on arrival”, berth and work cargo and sail more or less regardless of the time of day.

That’s true, ILA has defined start times. There is a lot of waiting until after midnight for 7 am start, sail by end of the day saving a days dockage. Bulker most times sits at anchorage until called up to berth. Grain elevator clears get her in and load to make room for incoming grain or load the next vessel in line. Coal same way.

One issue with using a single date and time for an ETA is that it is used by different people with various levels of understanding.

For example with a winter time great-circle crossing the projected speed can take into account encountering bad weather and an accurate ETA will reflect that.

If a ship is delayed revising the ETA to a later time is understood and expected. But it might not be anticipated that if weather conditions differ significantly from the forecast the ETA could improve.

Yes and the longer the voyage and route it takes makes a difference. Our run twice a month Panama to Australia did not vary much once transiting the canal . 3rd route Europe South Africa Western Australia then Eastern Australia very weather sensitive. Plus those vessels PCTC’s lot of sail area, which makes a difference too.

Read the press latest great idea, just in time supply chain, from someone with little knowledge how things work makes you laugh.