Despite much of the world, including the UK, continuing to face restrictions as a result of COVID-19, the movement of cargo is slowly beginning to increase. People still need to eat, PPE and pharmaceuticals need to be carried to those who need it and the building and construction industry is getting back to work. Whilst ports and terminals around the country remained open, the amount of cargo that could be moved reduced quite substantially. Some countries shut down operations completely, whilst others introduced strict criteria that had to be met before goods would be allowed into the country. The impact on our ability to undertake surveys, both domestically and internationally, was marked, and insurers reported a big drop in claims being received.
As lockdown measures are slowly relaxed, goods are starting to move again and claims are being received, albeit of a slightly different nature. We have received a number of claims involving the theft of PPE, and the theft of computers and alcohol seems to have increased. We have also seen an increase in incidents involving port tractors and forklift trucks (where the personnel may be somewhat rusty having not moved cargo and driven these vehicles for some months).
On the hull and machinery side, the cost of fuel oil for seagoing vessels dropped, allowing the world’s fleet to navigate the Cape of Good Hope thus avoiding the Suez Canal and its high fees. At the same time, regulations have been brought in to reduce the amount of sulphur in fuel oil, which should reduce pollution, but has resulted in engine issues, as mariners struggle to understand the properties of this newly developed fuel.
Whilst the world has experienced a period of real uncertainty, we are now beginning to see the green shoots of recovery, and our surveyors are undertaking onsite surveys once more ( albeit in line with both Crawford and government guidelines). We look forward to helping the marine industry with the challenges on the horizon.