Typically customers of sea shipping lines are not aware of the reasons that force linear vessels to completely “drop out” of the schedule even on such a short route as the voyage between Rotterdam and St. Petersburg. Such a trip takes only 4.5 days.
"How can you be late for a few days?” the frustrated customer thinks getting an updated version of the schedule. “It’s such a short distance!”
This winter (unusual for St. Petersburg) we had the opportunity to tell in detail about the obstacles that make the ships late, using the example of one voyage of the Njord vessel.
She was chased by Hurricane “Ciara” in Rotterdam, and then, on the way to St. Petersburg, all vessels approaching the port were not allowed through the dam, which was closed due to the threat of flooding.
This is what our expectations (handling plan) looked like and what this plan turned into reality.
M/v Njord arrived at RTM, at the pilot station, on February 9, at 08:00. Our agent in Rotterdam advised the following planned rotation in the port of Rotterdam:
EMX 09/02 09:00 - 09/02 11:00 hrs (Requested)
RST 09/02 13:30 - 10/02 22:00 hrs (Requested)
It was planned to shift immediately to the Euromax terminal, but the strong wind and the impending hurricane Ciara did not allow the vessel to begin unloading operations. It was decided to change the rotation, to make the terminal RST South the first (through it we handle the entire short sea cargo). While moving from Euromax to RST, the wind intensified and cargo operations could not be started at the RST terminal either. As soon as the wind died down, unloading / loading ops have been commenced, as far as the cargo plan allowed. Then they waited again.
As a result, the hanling at the port of Rotterdam was as follows:
RST 09/02 11:25 - 12/02 20:30 hrs (complete Discharge & partly Loading)
EMX 12/02 22: 10–13/02 01:00 hrs
RST 13/02 03:30 - 13/02 13:00 hrs (completion Discharge & Loading)
This is already 2.5 days of delay comparing to the dates from the schedule. But, as it turned out later, this was not the end of the story.
During the voyage to STP, the wave in the Baltic reached 3–4 meters, which did not allow Njord to get to the SPB pilot station on 17/02 03:00 - 06:00, as was planned on the basis of the downtime in Rotterdam.
On 17/02 at 14:10, by the order of the Harbor Master, a decision was made to close the dam due to the threat of flooding. In anticipation of the opening of the dam, the ship was lying in the anchorage for another day. The total lag from the schedule was 3.5 days.
During this time, Njord would have managed to make an almost complete trip between St. Petersburg and Rotterdam and transport several hundred containers. Instead she was waiting or shifted here and there in anticipation of the commencing of cargo operations.
Do not judge strictly shipping lines when their ships are late. We are doing our best to be as accurate as a watch, but you can’t explain it to a hurricane