Finnlines forced to divert vessel on route to Syria
European short sea operator Finnlines, part of the Grimaldi Group, has reported that it was forced to divert its ro-ro vessel MV Finnsun to Helsinki in Finland from the Belgian port of Antwerp on route to Syria following the discovery of a container carrying military tank parts that had been loaded at St Petersburg port in Russia.

According to a spokesperson for the port of Antwerp, the suspected container was not unloaded in Belgium. Following information exchanged between the Finnish and Belgian customs agencies, the Finnsun, which had already called at the port of Kotka, was contacted and told that it was carrying a container that needed a special licence said a spokesperson for Belgian customs. The spokesperson added that, as the ship was unable to produce the licence, Finnlines decided not to unload the consignment at the port of Antwerp. Therefore, the Belgian authorities could not confirm the contents of the container.

Finnlines decision to return to Finland will now be investigated by the Finnish customs authority.

“According to regulations of the Council of the European Union concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria, it is prohibited to transfer or export arms and related material of all types to Syria,” said Finnlines in a statement.

Under Finnish law, Finnlines could not take the container back to St Petersburg and made the decision to bring the container to the port of Vuosaari in Finland for discharge and inspection to the Finnish customs authority.

“Finnish customs have been given all information on the cargo during the transit of the vessel from St. Petersburg to Antwerp and is giving all assistance to the customs in the investigations,” stated Finnlines.

CEO and President Uwe Bakosch told Automotive Logistics News that further details, including the impact on the rest of the cargo aboard the Finnsun, would be made available once the ongoing investigation was complete.

The MV Finnsun is one of Finnlines newest ro-ro carriers and was delivered in the spring of 2012, part of an order for six ro-ro vessels. It provides cargo space for 200 trailers, 398 TEU containers and 600 vehicles on two hoistable car decks.

K Line introduces triple deck carrier to India
K Line (India), the Japanese shipping and logistics joint venture with United Liner Agencies of India, has started using a triple-deck motorcycle trailer for deliveries for a Japanese motorcycle maker operating in Delhi.

The trailer is based on a similar solution the company has used successfully in Indonesia on short-distance road transport from a motorcycle manufacturer in Jakarta to its domestic depot, and has currently advanced to long-distance transport efficiency with greater CO2 reduction.

Following trials in India the company is now deploying it on short distance routes from the customer’s distribution centre to depots in the region.

India is the world’s second largest market for two-wheeler vehicle, after China, and sales were expected to be around 12m in 2012 according to K Line (India). The company expects this to grow as only 49 per 1,000 people own a motorcycle.

Introducing the trailer was not without its problems according to the company.  These included difficulties in negotiating a viable shipping rate and in negotiating a more profitable approach with its partner. K Line also had trouble obtaining a specialized chassis with delays to the delivery and trails having to be postponed due to the failure of it the trailer’s hydraulic lift. In a revealing statement K Line said that it was certain that more difficulties lay ahead but that it was “determined to conquer India’s terrible road conditions”.

The company said it would continue to further expand this business to other Asian countries in the near future.

Prologis to build facilities for BMW NA
Real estate developer Prologis has signed two contracts with BMW North America to build two logistics facilities for the distribution of aftermarket parts.

The first development measuring an area of 30,000 square metres will be located in California at the Prologis Redlands Distribution Centre 11, part of the state’s Inland Empire submarket (the region federally defined as the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area). That facility will have the potential for expansion by 9,000 square metres.

The second facility will be located at the Prologis Park in Dallas and cover approximately 26,000 square metre with an option for expansion up to around 35,000 square metres.

Both facilities will be LEED Silver certified. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a voluntary programme that provides third-party verification of environmentally-sustainable buildings.

In a separate move, BMW is selling its distribution facility in Ontario, California to Prologis. The company said it expected strong customer interest in the 19,000 square-metre property.

"These new agreements demonstrate the power of our strong global customer relationships and increase BMW’s portfolio with Prologis to more than 2.2m square feet in five markets, all of which have been build-to-suits,” said Richard Strader, senior vice president, Global Customer Solutions, Prologis. “We are pleased to support the continued success of BMW and look forward to adding these new buildings to our global platform.”

BMW had intended to outsource the warehouse in 2011, and make around 70 redundancies, although further negotiations with the Teamsters Union had delayed the initial outsourcing (read more here).

Schenker boosts capacity in UK Midlands
DB Schenker Logistics’ UK division, Schenker Limited, has completed a major reinvestment programme at one of their main UK land hubs at Nuneaton.

The company has recently opened a dedicated contract logistics site in Tamworth in the UK Midlands, creating new capacity in the Nuneaton facility that it said is part of the company’s growth strategy for the Midlands region.

The 8,000-square-metre facility now has 21 loading bays and offers daily departures to and from all European destinations via its extensive land network which consists of 730 locations in 36 countries as well as the air and ocean freight services also offered from the Nuneaton branch.

“We have aggressive growth plans and this expansion will enable us to handle a vastly increased volume of cargo,” said Helgi Ingolfsson, CEO, Schenker Limited. “We have a large team based here, with vast knowledge we also have many value-added e-business services we can offer clients to improve the efficiency of their supply chain.”

DB Schenker Logistics said it is also able to provide rail freight services through its sister company DB Schenker Rail, including access to rail freight terminals in the local area, such as Hams Hall, and to mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel.

MCCL starts new ro-ro service to Black Sea
Short sea transport provider Mediterranean Car Carriers Line (MCCL) has established a new ro-ro service for finished vehicles between the port of Koper in Slovenia and ports in the Black Sea.

A dedicated PCTC vessel with a capacity of 750 cars, which is also able to load trucks, buses and project cargo, including high & heavy units, will call at the port of Koper every 20 days moving onto Piraeus in Greece, Derince in Turkey and Poti in Gerogia.

MCCL, based in Piraeus, specialises in the transport of vehicles in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Luka Koper, the port operator of the Slovenian port, reported handling almost 480,000 cars in 2012, up from just under 447,000 in 2011.