In recent months, issues with transhipment cargo ex-UK have been experienced as a result of both container lines serving South Africa from the UK omitting Cape Town as the first port of call. These omissions have affected the delivery of transhipment cargo on V.267 of the RMS and three of the first four voyages of the MV Helena.
AW Ship Management have investigated the matter with the container lines and there appears to be no single clear reason for the regular omission of Cape Town as the first port, with local weather conditions as well as port and ship technical failures all being given as root causes.
AWSM consider the regular omission of Cape Town calls wholly unacceptable and have been working with UK export customers and SHG to agree a strategy to minimise the considerable disruption caused.
As a result, it has been agreed for all UK transhipment dates to be brought forward by one week to allow export cargo to be loaded on an earlier sailing. Therefore, if the transhipment vessel omits Cape Town, time will be available for the ship to return and deliver the cargo in time for the intended sailing of the MV Helena. Should the transhipment vessel call at Cape Town as planned, cargo will be securely stored ready to be loaded on board the MV Helena for the intended voyage. Costs of this storage will be met by AWSM and not passed on to customers.
Due to cargo already booked, this arrangement will start from Voyage 8 and the schedule has been updated on the St Helena Shipping website to reflect this. Due to the impact that this change will have to export suppliers, AWSM consider the change to be a temporary measure and the performance of container lines calling to Cape Town will be monitored. Should the reliability of the service improve, consideration will be given to returning the ex-UK delivery dates to the original schedule.