NSA Quarterly Letter – January 2022
As we start 2022, I am reminded of my youth riding the merry-go-round. The up and down movement combined with the dizzy circular motion seems to best describe the ride we are experiencing trying to manage our respective supply chains during the pandemic. The start/stop effects on moving freight were disruptive in 2021 and I am afraid will continue in the new year. Like the carousel, it seems we ended the year where we started and preparing for ‘more of the same’ as the pandemic continues.
Despite the disruptions, we added Port Everglades in January of ’21 opening a new marine highway at a timely moment. Trucking rates between Texas and Florida increased and customers found our new marine highway service a creative alternative to moving freight at significant cost savings.
The Port Everglades to San Juan segment has also picked up with interest from South Florida origin freight and the current difficulties and cost in moving freight intrastate. Our Friday close in PEV and Wednesday arrival in San Juan provides the fastest transit to the island for ‘just in time’ freight.
I am pleased to report that despite adding the South Florida call, we provided 91% on time arrival/departures in 2021. Reasons for missing a perfect score such as weather, berth congestion, or regulatory were outside of our control. Included in 2021 were three Haiti port calls bringing US Government relief cargoes to the victims of the earthquake. When you speak about service reliability, a special recognition goes to the Crew of the National Glory who maintain her to the highest standards and have safely navigated her for the past 9 years. The remarkable part is that the crew is operating under strict ‘pandemic protocols’ that presented many hurdles and sacrifices.
I would like to call out and recognize the NSA/NLI customer service center team in Jacksonville. Under Arlene Heeneman’s leadership along with our new customer service manager, Michelle Santana, the Jacksonville Team demonstrated their ability to work at home, professionally and functional while remaining safe.
The challenges of inland transportation stateside will remain with us through 2022. The lingering of the virus has led to a weak labor force especially in the trucking industry. Even with
the inflationary rates, performance is not meeting the standard. This is our key management challenge in 2022 as a carryover objective from 2021.
In July of this year the National Glory is scheduled for her 5-year special survey drydock. We anticipate being out of service for 21 days. The drydock will include replacing all the hatch covers with new ones. We will be installing the hardware and software required to keep the vessel safe and secure. Specifically, we will be installing a ballast water treatment system to comply with IMO rules. Our main engine will be conditioned to continue to burn the highest-grade fuel.
On the horizon is the continued push for reducing one’s carbon footprint. The marine industry has been targeted to lead this effort with various environmental regulations as it relates to carbon emissions. This year, one of our customers requested our participation in the Carbon Disclosure Program (CDP) whereby the client is required to disclose their CO2 emissions not only for their core business – ocean shipping point to point – but also measuring the employee’s carbon footprint as it relates to commuting to the office, office building machinery, and business travel. Baseline measures are being established with improvement targets set for the future.
The same challenges of ’21 seem to be with us as we start the new year. I would like to reiterate that even in an inflationary environment that National Shipping has done utmost to maintain a stable and responsible pricing for our customers in Puerto Rico.
We would like to thank you for your support and patience in 2021. We enter the new year much the way we left ’21. After nine years in the trade NSA is well prepared to face the upcoming challenges of the year as the pandemic wanes.
It is always our pleasure in wishing you, your families, and firms a very Healthy, Happy, and Prosperous New Year!
President of National Shipping Agencies, Inc