logistics cargo ports aerial view
Written on
May 10, 2021

Maersk adds new vessel to their ocean network. What does it mean for New Zealand ports?


What's the update on New Zealand ports?

Heavy supply chain congestion and shipping container shortages have driven Maersk to adding another vessel to its New Zealand ocean network. The world’s biggest shipping container line will add a seventh vessel to its Southern Star service, known as the backbone of the Maersk ocean network in New Zealand.  

The service calls at the ports of Tauranga, Napier, Lyttelton and Port Chalmers before heading to Maersk's Southeast Asian hub ports in Malaysia and Singapore connecting vital cargo to Maersk’s global network, ensuring the delivery of goods to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  

"With the suspension of berthing windows across New Zealand ports causing disruption to our sailing schedule, the additional vessel will protect reliability and enable us to operate the service with a weekly sailing frequency across the New Zealand ports.”

Maersk Oceania Export head My Therese Blank

Why the need for a new vessel?

The industry is still feeling the repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic, Brexit and more recently, the Suez Canal blockage. All of these events have led us to the current container shortage that we have today, leading to the difficulties we've seen with caravan shipping. To cope with a drastic collapse in demand, many containers were moved inland to be stored in depots or have been piled up in cargo ports eagerly awaiting to be picked back up, however, the rapid surge in traffic meant ports are now working at full capacity to deal with current movements.

The slowdown in port productivity combined with the strong demand for containerised imports and exports in and out of New Zealand now continues on, adding to the already monumental pressures on the supply chain and causing monumental delays for those waiting to ship a caravan to New Zealand.

And now, due to the rapid influx of traffic, we’re now seeing ‘lost’ vessel positions, where queues of ships are awaiting berth openings at New Zealand ports, creating significant delays and effectively reducing trade capacity.  

How could an extra vessel possibly help with the traffic?

By adding the extra vessel, Maersk will improve the stability of their client’s supply chains, as it will create a buffer in service times. Currently, with six vessels, the round trip schedule takes 42 days in a standard operating environment, however, "by adding one additional vessel the round trip lead time increases to 49 days, effectively creating additional schedule buffer, and enables us to have the vessels arriving to New Zealand ports on a weekly basis with significantly reduced disruption to the New Zealand supply chain,” says Blank.  

By adding this new vessel to the service schedule, the New Zealand network capacity will be significantly improved, which otherwise would have been reduced by 20% with vessels stuck waiting for time slots at container terminals.

What’s the latest?

New Zealand are currently in the peak of their export season, so this seventh vessel is going to be fundamental when it comes to keeping the NZ supply chain moving as efficiently as possible.  

  • After global trade finally began to recover after the pandemic, there became a high demand for container space as air freight capacity dried up
  • The lack of space and surge in consumer demand drove import and export costs to skyrocket as shipping lines increased their rates  
  • Shipping lines introduced a ‘special’ congestion charge for containers handled at Auckland, the country’s main imports gateway, causing vessels to divert to Port of Tauranga; New Zealand’s biggest port and main export gateway  
  • At Port of Tauranga, container vessels were waiting on average two to three days at anchor, with exports at very high volumes  
  • Bay of Plenty port continues to battle on with its own export peak
  • The additional vessel, Rio Negro, is scheduled to first call at Tauranga on 22nd May

If you have any questions or concerns around this, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team.  

No items found.