HMM has diverted a post-Panamax container ship from its East Asia-India service to fulfill an “extra loader” Transpacific service.

The 7,000TEU HMM Jakarta departed Busan for Long Beach and is expected to arrive in Tacoma port on 10 July. The ship has been loaded with 6,000TEU, while the shipments from local small and mid-sized enterprises (SME) represent more than 60% of HMM Jakarta’s carrying cargo, 3,707TEU.

HMM said that it is currently in a situation where capacity is so tight that it is almost impossible to charter additional ships.

“In order to solve our difficulties, even ships operating on other routes are mobilised and put into these temporary services,” added the company.

Shipping volume on Transpacific routes has increased rapidly from the second half of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, causing freight rates to soar. Consequently, SME exporters have found it hard to secure sufficient shipping capacity, while facing cost pressures from rising freight rates.

HMM believes “The continuous input of temporary vessels will be of great help to domestic shippers who are experiencing logistical disruptions.”

At the government’s urging, HMM has completed several such ad hoc voyages to provide more shipping capacity to small and mid-sized South Korean exporters.

The Seoul-based carrier has completed 25 extra loader services from Busan, 15 to Los Angeles/Long Beach, five to the US East Coast, three to Russia, two to Europe and one to Vietnam since August.

On 15 June, Korea International Trade Association chairman Koo Ja-yeol, concurrent chairman of LS Group, an offshoot of South Korean chaebol LG Group, visited the offices of HMM and Korea Marine Transport Company (KMTC Line) to seek support for SME shippers.

Requesting beefed-up shipping capacity, Koo said, “Exports, which are the driving force of the South Korean economy, have recently been showing double-digit growth despite Covid-19, but export contracts are often abandoned because of a shortage of shipping space and a sharp rise in freight rates.”

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