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The first test will be a ship with 2,500 containers landing in Long Beach, CA on Friday. It's the first that set sails from Japan after the quake.

That ship already arrived last Friday and went through a Coast Guard inspection with no problems. Not counting the fishing boats and small coastal craft that got caught up in the tsunami, the only ship that I know with any problems is the MOL Presence (see my earlier comment). The shipping line may have to buy the load on that one - a pretty strong incentive to stay away from Tokyo/Yokohama.

OOCL and Hapag-Lloyd have rerouted to Osaka. Otherwise it's business as usual for Maersk, Hamburg-Süd and a host of others (K-Line, MSC, China Shipping, APL, Yang Ming) serving Tokyo. For a summary, see also this NYT report from a few days ago.

For the the Tokyo traffic rerouted to Osaka, I imagine most of the containers will be trucked north since JR Freight is not set up to handle a lot of ISO boxes in that they have very few overhead cranes and instead use forklifts at their terminals (the vast majority of containers that move on JR are the railroad's own non-ISO 12' boxes).

Trucking this freight north will definitely add time and cost to these moves. My guess is that the shipping companies that move to Osaka will lose this freight to those that stay in Tokyo. The ones that hold out longest will benefit with both higher volumes and higher rates.

by Jace on Tue Mar 29th, 2011 at 04:51:41 PM EST
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To follow up and to clear up some misreporting due to complexity of the liner business, the only shipping company that is explicitly avoiding Tokyo, Yokohama and until tomorrow, Nagoya is Hapag-Lloyd.

Hapag-Lloyd operates transpacific routes in a pooling arrangement known as the Grand Alliance along with OOCL, NYK and MISC. As a result, those companies have also had impacts on some of their Japan trade. NYK and OOCL continue to serve Tokyo and Yokohama on their other, non-alliance routes.

Hapag-Lloyd's move has been driven in part by ship owner Claus-Peter Offen who has stated that if his ships are 'affected' by radiation, they are not insured. At least one of the Hapag-Lloyd ships serving Japan, the Vancouver Express, is owned directly by Offen.

by Jace on Wed Mar 30th, 2011 at 10:47:35 AM EST
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