…As CBP Reports Record One-Tonne Cocaine Seizure at Savannah***
Germany’s Port of Hamburg has received three new gantry cranes that would provide the port with additional capacities for handling 23,000+ TEU ultra large container vessels (ULCVs).
The three cranes for the Container Terminal Burchardkai (CTB) of the Hamburg Port and Logistics AG (HHLA) arrived on November 5, 2019.
They reached the provisional berth at Athabaskakai after a journey of almost eight weeks aboard the special vessel Zhen Hua 27. There, they are prepared for the extinguishing process before the Zhen Hua 27 arrives at the final location at mooring 6 in the Waltershofer harbor.
The new bridges of the manufacturer ZPMC replace at the CTB three smaller units that have already been dismantled. In the first quarter of 2020, HHLA expects two more large container bridges of the same type. Following the gradual commissioning of the new handling equipment, HHLA has an additional large ship berth at Burchardkai.
“With the investment in five new gantry cranes and the creation of another large ship berth, we offer our shipping companies additional capacity and more flexibility in handling particularly large container ships with a transport capacity of more than 23,000 standard containers,” Jens Hansen, HHLA board member, commented.
Last year, the number of shipments of large containerships with a capacity of 18,000 to 22,000 TEU increased by 47 percent to 150 at the port. This trend continues –in the first half of 2019, the number has once again grown by almost 40 percent.
The investment in new gantry cranes is part of an expansion program at CTB. In addition to new gantry cranes and other handling equipment, these include the creation of new storage blocks and the expansion of the container terminal in 2019. HHLA plans to invest about EUR 1 billion (USD 1.1 billion) by 2022, of which around EUR 450 million is to be used for container handling.
In the meantime, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Savannah, Georgia seized 967 pounds of cocaine October 29, 2019 in a container of scrap aluminum and copper being shipped from South America to Europe. The seizure set a new port record.
CBP said that its officers detected an “anomaly” during an examination of a shipping container aboard a vessel that arrived in Savannah from South America. When officers opened the container, they discovered 21 duffel bags containing 818 bricks of a white powdery substance, which field-tested positive for cocaine.
The cocaine weighed a combined 967 kilograms and has an estimated street value of about $31 million.
No arrests have been made in connection with the seizure, and DHS Homeland Security Investigations has launched an investigation. As with all narcotics seizures, an investigation will attempt to learn when and where the cocaine was concealed inside the containers and the location of its final destination.
“Drug trafficking organizations are relentless in their attempts to smuggle drugs into the U.S.” said Christopher Kennally, Area Port Director Savannah. “Through hard work, dedication and tireless efforts of Customs and Border Protection officers in Savannah, we will continue to hit back . . . by intercepting their dangerous drugs at our ports of entry before they can harm our communities.”
As with the record-setting seizure at Port of Philadelphia in June, the shipment was not destined for U.S. communities: according to CBP it was under way from South America to Europe, where average cocaine street prices are high.
Tuesday’s seizure is CBP’s largest cocaine seizure at the Port of Savannah and marks CBP’s fifth narcotics interception in the seaport during the past five months. CBP’s previous record 1,280-pound cocaine seizure occurred in May 2019. That cocaine, which was aboard a container being shipped from South America, had an estimated street value of about $19 million.
“In response to emerging narcotics smuggling trends and threats in the maritime environment, Customs and Border Protection has enhanced our enforcement strategy on targeting high-risk shipments from source narcotics nations that are either destined to Ports in the United States, or that pass through sovereign United States waters,” said Donald. F. Yando, Director of Field Operations Atlanta. “The scourge of illicit narcotics is a very serious international health and security threat, and CBP will continue to partner with our federal, state, local and international partners by intercepting these dangerous drugs when and where we can.
On average, CBP seized 63 kilos of cocaine per day across the United States in FY2018, roughly one tenth of the quantity seized at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard (575 kilos per day). Though substantial, the Coast Guard’s seizures represent a small portion of the flood of northbound cocaine from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru: the agency estimates that it intercepts about seven percent of all small-craft maritime cocaine shipments in the busy Eastern Pacific / Caribbean trafficking corridors. (It reports a higher interdiction rate for known, identified small craft shipments.)
World Maritime News with additional reports from Maritime Executive