Insights into the “Masterplan 2050” written by Howard Knott

Port of Cork publishes “Masterplan 2050”

The Port of Cork Company has published this document which seeks to map the port’s journey from “River to Sea Port”. By 2050 all port activities will be located at a series of terminals located around the Cork Harbour area while the existing port locations at the City Quays and Tivoli can be re-developed for non-port activities.

The document states that the Masterplan responds to an increasing demand from global industry to provide reliable, safe, high performing facilities and services, in deeper water, near the main shipping routes and will ensure that the Port of Cork remains an efficient link in the global supply chain.

Following the recent opening of the €89 million Cork Container terminal at Ringaskiddy there have already been additional services using Cork including feeder operations in vessels that could not easily access the Tivoli Container facility.


Ocean carriers face into “normal” profitability

Having peaked during Summer 2022, ocean freight rates have steadily fallen to, in many cases, reach levels last seen in 2019.  A building boom in the USA kept Europe/USA container rates at an inflated level until early 2023 when the boom eased, and rates began to slide. The average westbound container rate is now over 60% less than the 2022 rate and close to the 2019 rate.

As the global economy begins to pick up, Shipping Lines and, indeed, air cargo carriers are hoping for this slide to stop and maybe allow rates to increase again. However, the major problem here is that the COVID inspired boom in demand for container shipping space and the huge rate increases arising from this, encouraged the Shipping Lines to order significant numbers of vessels from shipyards, most of which are in Asia. Over the next six months many of these will be delivered and put into service. While the tonnage of vessels being scrapped has increased over the last twelve months many of the recycling yards are being challenged in meeting the environmental regulations that are now being enforced. However, the introduction of the new vessels, many of which will be fuelled by methanol, LPG or are battery powered, will be an environmental positive.

A caution for importers of products or materials from Asia who are switching from shipping from locations in China to locations elsewhere in Asia, would be to check out the detail of the Supply chain from the new location to ensure that it is efficient and not significantly more costly. The very large container carrying vessels require major port facilities and seven of the world’s top ten of these are located on the Chinese coast. Shipping from elsewhere requires the use of feeder services back to a Chinese Port for anything but local cargo.


Shipping Industry moves rapidly towards low-emission vessels

The order recently placed by Stena Line for the building of a pair of new freight ferries to operate on their Warrenpoint/Heysham route and entering service in two years’ time, is a clear example of the environmental trend in ship design and propulsion.

Thes “New Max” vessels will be capable of using methanol rather than fuel oil and be equipped to operate using electricity from shore while working in Port. They will also be able to carry up to 80% more cargo than the vessels currently serving Heysham.

The first methanol powered feeder container vessel for Maersk Line has been launched and the Danish line plan to have it in operation in European waters by Autumn 2023. Maersk plan to have 20 methanol powered vessels in operation within three years. The company has, however, raised its concerns about the availability of sufficient quantities of such fuel to meet its own demands and those of other lines that are building similar vessels.

The CMA CGM subsidiary, CEVA Logistics is developing its Trade Car and Truck carrying activity and will, by 2025, be using four hybrid LNG/Battery powered car carriers chartered from its parent company. CEVA will also, by that time, have a fleet of 1450 electric vehicles to support its freight forwarding operation.

An ISO standard has been developed, ISO 14083, to calculate and report emissions from freight transport and logistics, and this will be in operation by September 2023. The standard will consider vessel sizes and types and will be a vital tool for businesses seeking to have accurate figures on the carbon footprint of their supply chains.

On 25th May, Dutch inland shipping company, Future Proof Shipping, put its first hydrogen-powered, zero-emissions inland container ship into operation. The vessel will shuttle containers from Rotterdam Port to inland container terminals and powering with Hydrogen means a reduction of greenhouse emissions of 2000 tonnes a year.


More capacity on Irish Ferry routes

  • CLdN has already made a vessel switch that increases capacity on the twice weekly Cork/Zeebrugge route.
  • Irish Ferries has replaced the cruise ferry Blue Star 1 with the larger capacity Oscar Wilde on its twice daily Rosslare/Pembroke route.
  • Seatruck Ferries have made a vessel switch that takes capacity out of their Warrenpoint/Heysham route and added it to their four rotations daily Dublin/Liverpool route.
  • Stena Line will, in June, bring their cruise Ferry Stena Vision onto their Rosslare/Cherbourg route displacing a smaller freight only vessel.
  • Stena Line will, in July, take the 42-year-old “Stena Europe” off the Rosslare/Fishguard route and replace her with the much newer Stena Nordica.


Written by Howard Knott for the Irish Exporters Association