Alaska Marine Lines imports containers from China
This spring, the M / V Saga Welco Indiana departed the port of Qingdao, China, with 600 new refrigerated sea containers en route to be put into service with Alaska Marine Lines. These units are the latest addition to Alaska Marine Lines’ fleet of nearly 29,000 shipping containers, apartments and tanks. While they will be primarily used for transporting seafood from Alaska, they will also transport all types of temperature-controlled products.
“The story of how the containers were brought into service with AML is remarkable,” said purchasing manager Jay Marchand. Global space for eastbound steamboats was scarce and prices were on the rise. Alaska Marine Lines worked with Lynden International to export the containers from China and charter a vessel to bring them east. Led by International Director Elodie Gergov, the Lynden International team worked on clearing Chinese customs while AML’s Jay and Steve Hardin worked with the container factory on specifications, pricing, inspections and production schedule.
With five days before the scheduled date for the containers to be loaded onto the ship, everything was on track for departure. But, by the 11th hour, Lynden’s team identified an unforeseen gap in port documentation and port release charges. Friday afternoon of a week-long Chinese holiday, Lynden’s local agent was asked to help clarify the issues. “By being present in person and having local contacts, the agent was able to act on behalf of both Lynden companies and pave the way for the delivery of the containers to the port,” Jay said. “The ship successfully departed with all 600 containers and arrived in Dutch Harbor 10 days later.”
The next challenge came with the unloading at Dutch Harbor. Alaska Marine Lines has contracted with a company to perform the handling using local labor. Due to high demand for labor and a shortage of labor between fishing seasons, only 50% of this labor was available, and delays counted in time. of AML’s contractual holding. With the threat that the vessel would be held up a week before it could complete the unloading, AML enlisted the help of Alaska Marine’s trucking equipment operators, Bering Marine tug crews and local employees of the AML Dutch Harbor operations to help unload the ship using the ship’s gantries. Once the vessel was anchored in the bay, two AML barges were brought alongside the M / V Indiana and the Lynden team unloaded directly onto the barge decks.
“While buying containers came with many unexpected challenges, it was the access to logistics professionals and their persistence that made the project successful,” said Jay.
As Elodie says, “The world of international shipping is very unpredictable, but we never give up and always do our best.”