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Hyperloop and HHLA are set to trial a new container by tube system

Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s high-speed-rail startup, has announced a new partnership with Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft (HHLA) to explore ways to move shipping containers to and from inland sites with Hyperloop’s maglev-in-a-tube technology.

Initially, the joint venture plans to build a transfer station for testing purposes at an HHLA terminal in Hamburg and develop a Hyperloop transport capsule for standard shipping containers.

“With the Hyperloop transport system, HHLA is pursuing the goal of developing an additional component of efficient logistic mobility solutions in Germany,” said Angela Titzrath, chairwoman of HHLA’s executive board. “We want to employ innovative approaches to make a contribution towards relieving the strain on the transport infrastructure in and around the Port of Hamburg.”

Hyperloop aims to transport people and goods at high speed through a tube. With the help of magnetic levitation technology, the transport capsules used in the system will be sent through a tunnel in which there is a partial vacuum, at very high speeds. A test track for transporting people and goods is currently under construction in Toulouse, France, and the first test journeys in Europe are set to take place there next year.

Cargo services are certainly on Hyperloop’s agenda: the firm’s board is chaired by Ahmed bin Sulayem, the head of leading container terminal operator DP World. In April, Hyperloop announced a technology partnership with DP World called “DP World Cargospeed,” an international brand for hyperloop-enabled cargo systems for palletized cargoes. The firms said that DP World Cargospeed systems will deliver freight at the speed of flight and closer to the cost of trucking, ideal for time sensitive priority cargoes.

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Finnish luxury yacht builder Nautor will unveil its latest Swan at Düsseldorf

Finnish producer of luxury yachts, Nautor, plans to unveil the latest in its Swan series at the Düsseldorf Boat Show 2019 in January. Also on show will be an improved Swan 54 with new engine throttle, redesigned anchor locker and enhanced access to the engine with one single larger panel on the port cabin.

The newest model, the Swan 65, is suitable for cruising with family and friends but equally capable of racing. Designed by Germán Frers, the mid-sized yacht enhances Nautor’s existing “performance bluewater” line of yachts, following the same design philosophy and parameters as her larger sister, the Swan 78.

The yacht can be managed with or without a professional skipper and also raced with a full competitive crew. Four are currently under construction with delivery scheduled in 2019.

Racing plans

Nautor’s Swan has plans for racing over the next few years. The Swan One design program has been reinforced and includes the new ClubSwan 36, ClubSwan 50, ClubSwan 42 and Swan 45 Classes. Its sights are set on the bi-annual Nations Trophy Event, Palma de Mallorca in October 2019 and the annual Nations Trophy Leagues in the Mediterranean and northern Europe.

The Swan European Regatta 2019 has been confirmed and the event, organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron, will take place in Cowes on the Isle of Wight on 7-12 July.

Also returning after some years of absence is the Swan American Regatta, to be held in Newport on Rhode Island on 13-16 June.

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Report published by MAIB on the capsize and sinking of fishing vessel Solstice with loss of one life

At 1938 on 26 September 2017, the 9.9m fishing vessel Solstice capsized in calm weather conditions about 7 miles south of Plymouth. The skipper and crewman were rescued from the vessel’s upturned hull about 5½ hours later, but the vessel’s owner was trapped and drowned in the wheelhouse. Solstice later sank.

The scallop dredger had recently been modified to operate as a stern trawler and its owner, skipper and crewman were in the process of hauling a heavy catch on board when the capsize occurred. The net’s cod-end was full of fish, moss and sand, and started to roll uncontrollably along the transom as the vessel heeled in the light swell.

The crew did not have time to raise the alarm before they entered the water. As the vessel was not equipped with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and the crew did not carry Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), they were wholly reliant on family and friends realising they were overdue and alerting the coastguard.

Safety lessons

– the crew had no stability information for Solstice and did not fully appreciate the risk of capsize. Vessel owners should always ensure that stability assessments are carried out before and after any modifications are undertaken;
– the weight in Solstice’s net was clearly excessive. In such circumstances, action should be taken to reduce the loads being lifted on board;
– take the search out of search and rescue; fit an Automatic Identification System (AIS) and carry an EPIRB and/or PLBs. They can be lifesavers;
– personal flotation devices should always be worn when working on deck and emergency use lifejackets should be readily available.


The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been recommended (2018/132 and 2018/133) to conduct an impact assessment to determine the effectiveness of the actions the organisation has taken, as a result of the lessons learned from the Solstice investigation, to improve its network operations.

Read the report in full: MAIB_Solstice_Report

Read the annexes: MAIB_Solstice_Report_Annexes

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International Group of P&I Clubs Annual Review 2017/18 published

The thirteen P&I Clubs which comprise the International Group between them provide marine liability cover for approximately 90% of the world’s ocean-going tonnage. In their recently released Annual Review 2017/18, Hugo Wynn-Williams, Chairman made the following statements in his introduction:

Tonnage up — reinsurance cost down
Another increase in Group-entered tonnage, and a fourth year of savings in the cost of the Group reinsurance purchase, albeit more modest than in recent years, were among the notable and welcome features of 2017/18 for
the Group clubs and their shipowner members.

World fleet growth continues to slow
World fleet growth continued to slow during 2017/18, from just under 4% to just under 3% as at July 2018, a far cry from the 8-9% growth rates experienced in 2010-12. Total Group-entered tonnage as at February 2018 had
increased to just over 1.209 billion GT, up from 1.16 billion GT a year earlier.

Freight markets continue to challenge
The freight markets have experienced a modest upward trend in the year to July 2018, with the ClarkSea index rising to just under US $12,300 from below US $10,000 a year ago. Liner and Capesize rates have shown the
most significant improvements by sector, but challenging times persist with volatility in all sectors.
Seaborne trade, however, continues to grow (2017 just over 4% and 2018 forecast 3.2%) with predictions of increased growth in all trade sectors.

Group Correspondents conference
As reported later in the Review, the fifth quadrennial International Group Correspondents conference was held in London in September 2017. The event was very well attended by representatives from correspondents around the globe. Club correspondents fulfil a crucial role as the “eyes and ears” of the Group clubs in almost 700 ports worldwide, and they also advise on, and represent, the interests of Group clubs and their shipowner members, thereby helping to streamline local procedural requirements and to minimise local operational delays for shipowners. The quadrennial conference provides an opportunity for correspondents to meet each other and the
clubs and discuss a broad range of topical issues impacting on shipowners, clubs and correspondents alike.

Looking forward
During 2017, the Group commissioned a market research survey in order to gain an insight into perceptions and understanding of the Group from a wideranging stakeholder audience, including from within the Group club managers
themselves. This exercise was completed in the early summer of 2017 and provided very useful feedback on what the Group and clubs do well, and where there is room for improvement to make the system work better. The “takeouts”
from this review were considered by senior club managers at a series of dedicated and externally facilitated strategy meetings held in Oslo in June 2017, which resulted in the establishment of a number of core high-level working groups looking at fundamental areas of operation of the Group, including the workings of the International Group Agreement (“IGA”), the scope of claims pooling, internal administration and governance within the Group and branding and communications. During 2017 and 2018, these working groups have made significant progress in addressing these core areas and the progress and future work programmes for these working groups were discussed at further strategy meetings in Newcastle in June 2018.

Uncharted waters ahead
The last three years have presented both challenges and opportunities for the Group, with significant focus areas, including the implications for clubs and shipowners of global sanctions measures, working with regulators and maritime authorities to address the problems arising out of cargo liquefaction, and helping shipowners to meet the financial security requirements under the Maritime Labour Convention. But, equally importantly, over this period there has been a much greater focus on the ways in which the Group system delivers benefits for shipowners through its claims pooling arrangements and through the sharing of the unparalleled underwriting, technical and legal knowledge and expertise which resides within the managements of the Group clubs, and ways
of strengthening and improving the system for the future.

In common with other sectors, however, there are disruptive times on the horizon for global shipping, and it is inevitable that there will be fundamental changes to the traditional ship owning and operating models over the coming decades. The challenge for clubs, and for the Group, will be to keep ahead of, and adapt to, these changes, so as to ensure that the system is still fit for purpose, and that it will continue to provide the highest levels and most comprehensive range of cover to meet shipowners’ liability insurance needs. The meetings in Oslo and Newcastle provided an opportunity to look at some of those challenges.

Read the 17 page annual review in full at

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What future for freight on the UK canal network?

Cargoes on the Trent, the Aire & Calder Navigation and the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation included coal, stone, oil, gravel and sand. But one by one these traffics disappeared
Cargoes on the Trent, the Aire & Calder Navigation and the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation included coal, stone, oil, gravel and sand. But one by one these traffics disappeared

Four years ago the Canal & River Trust launched a last-ditch attempt to revive commercial freight carrying on the larger waterways before it died out completely. How has it fared since then?

Back in the 1990s, any guide describing the canals and rivers of Yorkshire and the north eastern part of the network would make a point of emphasising how these large-scale waterways were still busy with freight barges loading several hundred tonnes each and helping to satisfy the nation’s transport needs – unlike the small-scale canals of the Midlands and most of the rest of the system, where regular commercial freight had died out a quarter of a century earlier.

Cargoes on the Trent, the Aire & Calder Navigation and the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation included coal, stone, oil, gravel and sand. But one by one these traffics disappeared, not necessarily for reasons that were anything to do with the inadequacy of the transport system – deep coal mining was in terminal decline, while a major aggregates trade became surplus to requirements following mergers in the industry. And the same story had been repeated on other larger waterways such as the Severn and the Weaver.

By 2014, a couple of years after the Canal & River Trust took over from British Waterways, its network was carrying just three regular traffics totalling under 500,000 tonnes a year, and only one of them (oil from Hull to Rotherham) was running for more than a short distance on the non-tidal inland waterways. In a final effort to “determine once and for all whether there is any real potential” for carrying significant heavy freight in the future, CRT narrowed down the potential routes to the Aire & Calder and Sheffield & South Yorkshire (plus the New Junction Canal which links them together) and launched a project aiming to work with development partners, investigate possible improvements to the waterways, look for funding, launch a freight conference, identify likely traffics, and push the idea of putting freight back on the water to potential users. Four years on, has the project made any progress?

On the face of it, no: there isn’t any more freight being carried. But behind the scenes, there’s been some real progress with pretty much all of the objectives mentioned above.

Potential traffics: As CRT’s Jon Horsfall points out to Canal Boat, the A&C Main Line runs for something like 40 miles parallel to the congested M62 and overloaded railway lines. There is sea freight from the Humber in both directions. Sea dredged aggregates are a likely traffic, with a waterside concrete mixing plant – and there’s a 2m tonnes per year demand for aggregates for construction and road work in Leeds.

Funding: The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has secured a commitment for funding an inland port at Stourton, on the outskirts of Leeds, which could take more than 200,000 tonnes a year off the roads – and a planning application will follow soon, with a decision expected early in 2019.

Partnerships: CRT is working with the Freight Transport Association, the Leeds South Bank Strategy, a European Interreg (inter-regional) project with the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium, and is an observer on the Liverpool-Humber Optimisation of Freight Transport partnership, which is looking at making better use of the Humber ports as a European gateway.

Improvements: Once an initial traffic can be secured, CRT can look at investing in modification to maximise cargo capacity on these waterways. By enlarging a small number of bridges, and improvement works to a few locks (Bulholme Lock in particular has revetments at the bottom of the chamber walls which limit its usable size) the gauge can be pushed up to the European Class 2 (1300 tonne) size – or to container barges carry eight standard shipping containers.

Conference: In October Freight by Water 2018, hosted jointly by CRT and FTA, tool place in Leeds. And it concluded that “the time is right to increase freight by water” which should be “part of any effective multi-modal logistics strategy”, and that the Stourton plans could lead on to further development – but that “further investment in infrastructure is desperately needed for it to reach its full potential”.

So when will we see actual cargo carried? John Horsfall tells Canal Boat that the first new traffic could be no more than 12 months away. Time will tell if this is the start of a revival of freight on the north eastern waterways.

Article first published on


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