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International shipping update: Baltimore Bridge blown up, Red Sea issues remain

Parts of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, which collapsed after being struck by cargo ship Dali on 26 March, have been removed with controlled detonations.

The aim is to clear the way for the eventual full return of shipping through one of the busiest sea routes in the USA.

The Dali remains stranded at the site of the accident, blocking the deep waterway into Baltimore port and is now covered in scrap metal from the bridge.

It is estimated that 3,000-4,000 tonnes of metal and masonry were dislodged by the explosions, which will need to be cleared from the waterway and onboard the stricken vessel before further progress can be made.

21 crew members, most of them Indian, are still on board, maintaining the vessel and protecting its cargo, and sheltered while the controlled explosions took place. The six-week closure of Maryland’s Patapsco River as a result of the collision has forced the rerouting of many of the US’s supply chains.

Meanwhile, ships continue to be rerouted around the tip of Southern Africa, rather than travelling through the Red Sea, in response to more than 100 attacks on vessels by Houthi rebels. Traffic through the Suez Canal dropped by 66% in April compared with a year ago.

Yet despite the pressure on trade routes, the Office for National Statistics’ UK trade report, out last week, said there had been no evidence the crisis had affected UK import levels between January and March, with shippers rerouting goods through other channels to maintain supplies.

About 70% of all Europe’s car parts are shipped through the Red Sea from Asia, with some manufacturers turning to air freight to bypass the region, while the number of trains leaving China for Europe has increased dramatically since the start of the year.

With some manufacturers realigning their supply chains to source products from countries closer to home, such as Morocco and Turkey rather than Asia, there has been no significant rise in consumer prices as yet.

Logistics UK continues to maintain a watching brief on the situation and will keep members informed of any changes.

Published On: 23/05/2024 15:00:00


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In brief

Logistics UK reacts to the Automated Vehicle Act receiving Royal Assent

Responding to the Automated Vehicle Act receiving Royal Assent on Monday 20 May 2024, Logistics UK’s Head of Engineering Policy, Phil Lloyd said:

“The approval of the Automated Vehicle Act brings the future one step closer to reality, but there is still more to be done if science fiction is to become fact. 

“Logistics UK and its members want to work closely with the next government to build a regulatory framework and funding model for trials that enables our sector to act as a test bed for vehicle development. At the same time, if these vehicles are to deliver the benefits for the economy that are anticipated, it is vital that transport infrastructure, investment and technologies make similarly swift progress, to ensure our sector can take full advantage of the opportunities that automation could deliver for the UK’s supply chain.”

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