Short Sea Shipping in the EU


The big container terminals in most of the European harbors were before SOLAS already equipped with cranes that could weigh each container. However, that was more of a necessity to protect the cranes against containers that weighed more than the lifting capacity of the cranes could handle and not so much as to verify the weight against that mentioned on the bill of lading.

Southern Europe, with a large number of smaller ports, is a problem area as this is also the case in most parts of the underdeveloped world, India being the nice exception. Yes, it costs extra money, investmentwise but also for the weighing station fees, but the weight verification will lead to additional tonnage being reflected on the manifest, which will exceed the amounts charged for verifying the VGM on exports. Shippers will be careful declaring the real weight once knowing that containers will be left behind or to avoid penalties.

In my port (Aden), we will hardly be able to look at this issue because we are already not an efficient port and that will add to our challenges.

This picture shows the situation in 2016 and it seems that worldwide only muted progress is made with the implementation of the SOLAS requirement, also in the US. In the US, a number of ports including Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Virginia refuse to install new equipment at their terminals, arguing that existing weighing procedures already comply with SOLAS. That was also the position of the US Coast Guard, as expressed in a U.S. House of Representatives Hearing, in April 2016.


Somebody see future business in the feeder market in Europe and beyond:

MPC is just over 1 year old and already have a fleet of 69 ships purchased in the second hand market:
The aim is a 100 ship fleet by end of next year.


Last night during loading at the ECT container terminal the inland container ship Comienzo lost 40, for the most part empty, containers in the Rotterdam Amazone Harbor. Tugs and Port Control vessels prevented the containers from floating into the New Rotterdam fairway.

The skipper said this happened when a container was loaded on the port side after which the vessel suddenly heeled sharply causing the loss of the 40 containers. Hereafter the ship returned to the upright position. He claimed that the ship had more then enough stability to handle an overweight container. However, this should be impossible as at this terminal each container requires a VWG certificate. An inquiry will be held to establish the cause of the incident. The financial and material damage is large. In the mean time all containers have been salvaged.

If the container was not seriously overweight I personally think that the ship didnot have sufficient stability. It probably would have capsized if it had not lost the containers during the swing.


The Netherlands is the top country in Europe for deep sea shipping, and also the largest transshipment point for deep sea and short sea shipping. A recent publication for the EU statistical service desk EUROSTAT showed that the top-3 Short Sea Shipping countries in Europe in terms of volume were the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Italy. Short Sea Shipping (SSS) is an important mode of transport in Europe, because it is efficient and economical. In 2006, SSS accounted for 62% of the total transport of maritime goods in Europe, a grand total of 1.9 million tonnes of cargo.

As the top container port in Europe, with 10.8 million TEU transshipped in 2007, Rotterdam offers a diverse menu list of regular short sea and feeder services to and from more than 110 European ports. Many major SSS destinations, including the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, the Baltic area, the Iberian peninsula and countries around the Mediterranean sea, are served on a daily basis. The top-4 of the current SSS services to and from Rotterdam are:

  • United Kingdom/Ireland: 40 weekly services
  • Spain/Portugal: 26 weekly services
  • Scandinavia: 26 weekly services
  • Baltic/Russia: 16 weekly services.

Short Sea and Inland Waterway Shipping are gaining more and more in importance and have developed in the past years a vast momentum. In line with this the EU has a strategic interest in ensuring the continuous performance of Short Sea Shipping. As by 2050 short sea shipping has a strong role in reaching the EU transport goal of reducing 60% of greenhouse gas emission generated by transport and by 2030 the shift of 30% of road freight over 300 km to other modes.

The main priority areas where the European Commission is taking action for enhancing the further development of Short Sea Shipping are threefold:

  • Administrative simplification.
  • Support industry in picking up new technologies for complying with new and stricter environmental legislation.
  • Integration of short sea shipping in full logistics chains.

European Short Sea Shipping Network.

With a view to promoting Short Sea Shipping, Shortsea Promotion Centres (SPC) have been established in nearly all coastal EU Member States. The Commission encourages the coordination of the SPCs at European level, within a European Shortsea Network (ESN).


Feeders and Short Sea is the unsung heroes of the Container trade:


Funny that the unseen feeder industry is described at length but that he on his turn seems to be blind to the important complementing world of inland waterway container trade. It is not mentioned anywhere in the article.


The Taiwanese are investing heavily in container feeders to complement their main line services:


A new twist in the container shipping world. DP World buys Unifeeder, Europe’s largest feeder operator:


Wilson is buying another 6 mini-bulkers for their European short sea trade:

They are operating out of Bergen, Norway, but use exclusively Russian (80%) and East European officers and crew on permanent employment contracts, with a full packet of benefits.
Continuous training opportunities are offered for free at Wilson’s own training centres and good prospects for shore based work for those who seek such after their sailing career.

Don’t believe me?? Here is a link to their website and crewing policy:

A nice short sea ship seen approaching pilot station near Honningsvaag, Norway:

PS> Honningsvaag ( Coordinates: 70°58′43″N 25°58′36″E) is shearing an island with North Cape. ( 71°10′21″N)


Someone have started singing:

Even the UK is starting to think rationally about short sea vs. road transport.
From Maasmond Newsclippings today:

Samskip is leading the way in short seas shipping of the future:


Looking at the photo of the Cominezo which lost so many containers in port… How do they see where they are going?

Or does someone stand at the bow with a remote to the autopilot?


They lift the bridge to the necessary height above the containers.

See the photos with different load heights >>>


Cripes… looking at the photo above… that’s even worse forward viz than the BowBelle which ran down the Marchoness on the Thames killing a lot of people back in the late 80’s. After that, the “flatties” as they were known were fitted with a forward lookout post on the bow.


I think it’s maybe not as bad as it looks in that photo – I think there’s some wide-angle lens perspective distortion there. Look through the photos and you’ll find one with a four-high stack taken from water level off the port bow. Looks a lot better.


This is how it looks like from the wheelhouse of a similar type vessel


European short sea feeders face uncertain future:


I spotted this adorable little lighter in the Gulf of Piraeus:


Late to the party… but I agree with this.

A North Sea pilot on one recent voyage and a pilot in Bremerhaven (both former feeder vessel Officers/Masters) told us that 9 times out of 10 when you go aboard these feeders they are a bunch of zombies. Their crew size, port time and sailing schedules make following work/rest regulations impossible except on paper.




The viewing angle can be roughly calculated from the total horizontal distance of 8.5 40’ containers of 105 m and the eye sight height above the top layer of about 3 meters. The angle’s tan is then 0.028571 and the angle is 1.64°. The total height of 4 containers of each 8’ 6" plus the main deck height is about 14.5 m and the eye sight height 17.5 m.

The forward blind spot with a ship length of 135 m is then 478 m. With the the radar antenna and (IR) camera’s fitted on the bow a blind spot of 500 m is allowed, otherwise 350 m, so the regulations in this case are met.

Measurement by the photometric method which is accurate within 10 m.

Some years ago an investigation showed an alarming outcome as of the 86 ships 40% didnot comply with the rules. In one case the blind spot was even 1500 meters!


I met a guy in Singapore who was sacked after refusing to take a ship to sea that he couldn’t see forward. I think it was a FPSO.
He tried to sue for wrongful dismissal and got no where.


Seems like a house forward would be much better for inland vessels. 280 meters in a long distance in small river or harbor.