Maritime Global Trade Roundup – April 12, 2024 

In the Spotlight

What’s inside?

    It was an interesting and somewhat volatile week…as always. Here are the quick highlights and analysis you need from the week in maritime global trade (and sometimes from slightly before this week), powered by Maritime AI™ insights.

    Also, check out our Windward Trade Patterns & Risk Insights Report for Q1 and Volatility Grows in North America: Global Trade Report

    Possible PoD Changes After The Bridge Crash’s Effect on the Supply Chain 

    • There was a noticeable increase in port calls following the accident to other ports on the East Coast by container vessels following the tragic Baltimore bridge crash. Windward’s Maritime AI™ platform shows that the most significant increase was seen (prior to and following the accident) in the ports of Norfolk (10%), Savannah (13%), Port Charleston (28%), and Philadelphia (57%).
    • Insights from Windward’s Ocean Freight Visibility (OFV) solution indicate that the number of weekly expected container arrivals to the ports of New York, Savannah, and Port Charleston increased dramatically following the accident. The number of weekly expected shipments increased by 35% in New York, 33% in Savannah, and 40% in Port Charleston.
    • Since the accident, most shipments showing a port of destination (PoD) change have updated their PoD to the port of Norfolk. Windward’s AI insights show that the majority of shipments showing a PoD change did so up to 10 days after the carriers’ ETA/ATA. As seen below, there are also shipments displaying a PoD change between 20-40 days after the carriers’ ETA/ATA, which might suggest that in the coming month the port of Norfolk will see potential congestion that will affect the global supply chain.
    • The tragic Baltimore bridge collision has caused increasing delays and changing trading flows to a supply chain that was already volatile from Houthi disruptions (see below), the drought in the Panama Canal, and other factors. Actionable visibility, exception management, a better understanding of route deviations, and sequence search are possible via Windward’s Maritime AI™ platform. This innovative technology helps organizations find value in the face of volatility.

    Red Sea Crisis Effects on the Supply Chain

    The Houthi rebels declared back in October 2023 that they would attack vessels related to the “Prosperity Guardian” coalition. Merchant vessels had difficulty sailing in the Red Sea, resulting in major delays caused by detours via the The Cape of Good Hope (instead of the Red Sea and Suez Canal direct route). The number of attacks on vessels has dropped significantly in recent weeks, which had the following effects:

    • Container vessels continue to circumnavigate South Africa via The Cape of Good Hope. Windward’s Sequence Search capability shows that the number of port calls by container vessels in the major ports of Europe (Rotterdam, Piraeus, and Hamburg) kept increasing during March 2024, and peaked in the beginning of April 2024.
    • Windward’s Sequence Search shows an improvement in the number of port calls in Europe’s largest ports after vessels crossed the Suez Canal. Between February 2024 and April 2024, there has been a significant increase in the number of port calls conducted by container vessels in Europe after crossing the Suez Canal. The port of Rotterdam shows the most significant increase: 64%.
    • By the end of February 2024, shipping prices between East Asia to North Europe have dropped by 17%, and between East Asia to the Mediterranean by 19%, as shown in Windward’s Port Insights.
    • Attacks have dropped and shipping prices have also decreased in recent weeks, so it is possible that the sailing conditions in the Red Sea improved for freighters. This may explain the increase in port calls following a Suez Canal crossing. While the numbers do not meet the normal rates of shipping prior to the Red Sea Crisis, this could signal a possible improvement in maritime security in the area.

    Iranian Cargo Vessels’ Increase in Dark Activities: Arabian Sea & Horn of Africa Regions

    • There has been a sharp increase in Iranian Activity in the Arabian Sea and the Horn of Africa Region in the past month. Open sources showed that several weapon smuggling operations in the Arabian Sea were recently detected by international peacekeeping forces. In several cases, sources indicate that the illicit cargo that was seized were Iranian weapons headed to the Houthi rebels.
    • Windward’s platform shows that there was a sharp increase in dark activities by Iranian-flagged cargo vessels in the Arabian Sea and Horn of Africa regions in March 2024. The data reveals a 287% increase in the number of dark activities conducted by these vessels in the Arabian Sea and Horn of Africa since December 2023, amidst the Red Sea crisis. March 2024 marks the highest number of dark activities by Iranian-flagged vessels in the Arabian Sea and Horn of Africa since January 2023.

    OFAC Targets Network Facilitating Shipments for Iranian Military

    • The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reported on April 4 that it is taking additional action against Iranian military revenue generation and targeting Oceanlink Maritime DMCC for facilitating the shipment of Iranian commodities on behalf of Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff and Ministry of Defense.
    • Windward data shows that Oceanlink Maritime DMCC owns ten vessels, all of which are currently sanctioned. Seven out of the 10 vessels are crude oil tankers, and all sail under flags of convenience and blacklisted flags.
    • The Oceanlink Maritime DMCC fleet was mostly active in the Arabian Gulf and China during the past year. But Windward data shows that the fleet has  conducted dark activities and location (GNSS) manipulation mostly in the Black Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
    Weekly wrap up 07 11 04 24 1
    Clustering of dark activities conducted by Oceanlink Maritime DMCC fleet, January 2023-March 2024.
    Weekly wrap up 07 11 04 24 2
    Clustering location (GNSS) manipulation conducted by Oceanlink Maritime DMCC fleet, January 2023- March 2024.
    • As seen in recent cases, vessels affiliated with Iran usually use deceptive shipping practices for illicit commodity trading namely crude oil and oil products. Windward’s compliance risk, and location (GNSS) manipulation tagging allow for a better understanding of the potential risk for sanctions evasions.

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