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Blizzards disrupt shipping schedule

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Treacherous blizzards on the east coast of the United States have wreaked havoc on the Island's shipping schedule.

The delayed arrival of both the Amstel Trader and the Somers Isles this week could have a significant impact on supermarkets as well as other customers. The Somers Isles, which has taken over from the Bermuda Islander route while she is in dry dock, is expected to arrive in Bermuda three days behind schedule on Saturday after the ship's crew endured a perilous journey to New Jersey.

Captain Hendrik Basynya reported: “Vessel proceeded from Bermuda to Salem on a more southerly course to avoid the worst part of the storm.

“Vessel endured 20ft to 24ft seas, with individual waves closer to 30ft at times. Peak sustained winds of 55 knots, while gusts were observed by crew of 65 to 70 knots.

“During the worst of the storm the vessel made a minimum speed ahead, just enough to keep a safe heading into seas and swell.

“Crew is completely exhausted as sleeping was extremely difficult.

“The captain has been 36 hours continuously on the bridge and is happy to finally get some sleep now that weather has improved.”

The Somers Isles is expected to arrive in Salem today to discharge empties and back load full containers.

She is then scheduled to sail on Wednesday morning and arrive in Bermuda on Saturday.

Howard Pitcher, vice-president of Container Ship Management, which manages Somers Isles Shipping said: “Bermuda is fortunate to have some of the best crews delivering our food and supplies on a weekly basis. They take their role very seriously and always go the extra mile to get the vessels here as close to schedule as possible.

“We are also fortunate to have great stevedores who quickly discharge the vessels, customs officers who work late to keep the gate and X-ray machine manned, trucking companies who deliver the containers and the suppliers who many times have to bring crews in overnight to get the shelves stocked.”

Meanwhile the Amstel Trader, which was due into Hamilton on Monday, is now expected to arrive in Bermuda on Thursday afternoon owing to an extensive snow cleanup in New Jersey.

Barry Brewer, president and CEO of the Neptune Group, which runs the Amstel Trader, told The Royal Gazette that January and February were always challenging months for ships operating in the North Atlantic.

“This last week produced sustained gales for the entire return voyage to New York for BCL's charter vessel the Amstel Trader, which is covering for the Oleander while in dry dock,” said Mr Brewer.

“While considerably larger and faster than the Oleander, the Amstel Trader's sea passage through 20ft to 30ft seas, took nearly 90 hours versus the usual 50, arriving at 3am on Saturday morning.

“The Amstel Trader was one of the last vessels to berth in New York before snowstorm Jonas began and the port was closed.

“All BCL containers from Friday's scheduled voyage had been received on the terminal and remain ready for loading.

“The port received nearly 30 inches of snow on Saturday, which is just short of an all-time record accumulation.

“The cleanup effort required for the Port of New York is significant.

“The vessel will depart for Bermuda at full speed to possibly arrive on Thursday late afternoon, weather permitting.”

Behind schedule: the Somers Isles endured rough seas
Perilous journey: the Somers Isles

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Published January 26, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated January 26, 2016 at 8:39 am)

Blizzards disrupt shipping schedule

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