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AAL JOINS BREAKBULK SHIPPING PANEL FOR JOC WEBCAST

AAL Managing Director, Kyriacos Panayides, will be participating in the upcoming JOC Webcast ‘Breakbulk Shipping: The MPP Fleet Prepares for The Global Energy Transition’ on 25 March 2021 at 11 AM. 

After weathering an utterly unpredictable 2020, the multipurpose and heavy-lift fleet is charting its 2021 course ahead of an energy transition that will require rethinking many long-held assumptions. Last year kicked off with IMO 2020 and a major bankruptcy — Zeamarine — in the MPP sector; no one could have foreseen that these issues would quickly become secondary as COVID-19 and the resulting crash in oil prices upended the global economy. A “green recovery” is now accelerating the global push to decarbonize energy sources, but what does this mean for project and breakbulk carriers? What can shippers and service providers expect to see in terms of trade lanes, available capacity, and freight rates from MPP carriers? This webcast will open with a fleet overview and be followed by a discussion of the sector’s outlook with executives from dominant MPP players.

For more information on the JOC webcast, and to register for FREE, click here.

LONG-TERM MONTHLY ‘ASIA – AMERICAS’ TRAMP SAILINGS

AAL Shipping (AAL) is capitalising on the frequency of sailings it has operated in the past 12 months between Asia and the Americas, to commit tonnage and resources to strengthening the trade lane going forward into 2021.  With the recent experience of carrying a much broader portfolio of cargoes into Central America, USG and the USEC and having gained the trust of a growing customer base within the US, SEA and China, it is committing to a sailing a month and employing multiple vessel types from its young specialist MPV fleet.

Michael Morland, General Manager of AAL Americas and based in Houston, explained, ‘Our service connects South East Asia, Far East, USG and the US East Coast and we are well placed to service cargoes and parcels of any size. A lot of the smaller cargoes tend to be booked at origin in Asia, whereas project cargo often booked from within the US, like renewables into the US Gulf and Energy & LNG sector projects. This view is simplified but holds true in terms of a trend. We are however noticing a slow shift towards more project cargo influence from Asia.’

‘Despite a lot of experience on this trade lane, building the market to justify regular monthly MPP tramp sailings has taken time and hard work. Looking back a few years, volumes could not be relied on and we saw long-standing players pull out. We do not take our recent success for granted and are pleased with how well the market has taken to our service integrity. Our local market knowledge and presence – both in the US and Asia – coupled with a fleet well-suited for the trade allows for continued commitment and optimism.’

AAL’s fleet comprises various sizes of heavy lift MPP vessels, that offer cargo intake of up to 40,000 CBM and heavy lift of 700 t max. With two thirds of its vessels in the ‘mega size’ MPV segment (30,000+ DWT), AAL’s ability to parcel-up big and small cargoes of any type on frequent monthly sailings, as with the ‘Asia – Americas Trade Route’ offers significant economies of scale to all customers.

AAL foresees that the Biden administration will continue a strict line on trade with China but anticipates a more constructive dialogue that will lead to increased trade volumes between the two superpowers.  The Carrier also forecasts increased cargo volumes to South America.

Morland added, ‘As our service from Asia enters through the Panama Canal, we are seeing increased inquiries to North of South America and Central America. The deviation to discharge in these ports is not necessarily big, so we can be competitive when there are cargoes suitable. There are signs of investment in oil and gas, infrastructure and renewables, so we are in the perfect position to increase our fleet deployment into the region given the right opportunity.’

AAL COMMITS LONG-TERM TO EU-ME/IN-ASIA SERVICE

AAL Shipping (AAL) is marking the one-year anniversary of its ‘Europe – Middle East / India – Asia Monthly Liner Service’ with a long-term commitment to employing six ‘mega size’ (30,000+ DWT) heavy lift multipurpose vessels on the operation. The decision comes amid growing popularity for the service amongst large and small shippers from across Europe and the Middle East, able to parcel their project heavy lift, breakbulk, steel and general cargoes on AAL’s large tonnage vessels. Shipper demand has been amplified by the reliability of the scheduled monthly frequency provided by the 12-month-old service for forward planning operations, which has been a great success despite its launch coinciding with one of the most challenging periods for the global shipping community.

Eike Muentz, General Manager at AAL Europe, explained, ‘It would have been justified if we had simply postponed our plans at the time and waited-out the worst of the pandemic and its potential impact on cargo readiness, port delays and crew restrictions. However, we had already built momentum in the shipper market and established strong relations with important partners and base ports along the service like Antwerp, Porto Marghera, Dammam and Jebel Ali. Despite severe pressure on our operations due to international COVID-19 restrictions, we have performed every sailing as planned and scheduled from then until now.’

Kay Goldenstein, Commercial Manager at AAL Europe added, ‘customers were initially cautious, having witnessed other MPP carriers on the trade lane fail to deliver on commitments. The fact that AAL had run a successful liner service between Asia and Australia for 25 years and had direct recent experience of operating numerous sailings between Europe and Asia gave us the confidence and credibility to approach shippers across Europe and the Middle East. We established a presence in key hubs across Northern, Central and Southern Europe and got the word out quickly to interested partners with cargo needs. This developed into picking up breakbulk, steel and general cargo Eastbound – anything big or small – and parcelled these up with any project cargoes headed in the same direction.’

AAL made the decision early to deploy its young 31,000 DWT A-Class fleet on the service. These ‘mega-size’ vessels, supported by the carrier’s award-winning operations and engineering teams, are well-equipped to handle the diverse cargo profile required of a monthly liner service. Their clear weather deck space of 3,000 SQM combined with adjustable tweendecks and significant under deck volume make the vessels ideal for project heavy lift, general cargo, steel and bulk commodities as well as being equipped to carry every container size from 20ft to 53ft HC. Besides their 40,000 CBM cargo intake volume, they also feature HL cranes for units of up to 700 t.

Muentz concluded, ‘Running a liner service takes a significant commitment of resources and people working literally around-the-clock and right across the route to ensure that our six vessels are fully employed and that our customers of all sizes find a place for their cargo on the sailing they want and calling the ports they need. We want AAL to be the first port of call for our customers and that requires trust and dependability and we are confident that the service and our team is up to the challenge.’

AAL TRANSPORTS 22,400CBM FOR ELIWANA MINE & RAIL PROJECT

Global project heavy lift carrier AAL Shipping (AAL) recently delivered 22,400cbm of stacker reclaimer components from Dalian in North East China to Port Hedland in Western Australia. The cargo, destined for the Fortescue Metals Group’s Eliwana Mine and Rail Project in the Pilbara, was loaded on the 19,000dwt heavy lift mpv, AAL Fremantle (S-Class). Months of meticulous engineering planning were made significantly more difficult due to newly implemented COVID-19 restrictions in Dalian. Despite these challenges, the cargo was loaded safely, and schedule integrity maintained. 

The stacker reclaimer components were shipped on behalf of one of the world’s leading project logistics providers, Schenker Australia Pty Ltd. The cargo comprised of multiple components of which the heaviest was just over 230t and, the longest, 40m in length.  Tandem lifting was required using the vessel’s port side heavy lift cranes (700t max lift) and the operation proved challenging. 

Nicola Pacifico, Head of AAL Transport Engineering explained, ‘When handling heavy lift and over dimensional project cargo, considerations of weight distribution, lift height restrictions, maximum outreach and of course time and safety are significant.

‘Project requirements were also exacting, and we prepared extensive engineering modelling and feasibility scenarios to illustrate the safety of our transport solution, its response to potential weather fronts during typhoon season and to comply with additional requests submitted by Marine Warranty Surveyors. Ultimately, we met all required standards and made full use of the AAL Fremantle’s 1,600sqm weather deck and the 53m length of her hold number 3 to safely stow and secure every piece of our customer’s 22,400cbm cargo for its onward 3,700nm journey to Port Hedland.’

He added, ‘At 19,000dwt, the S-Class is one of AAL’s smallest fleet classes.  Designed and built by AAL to service the demands of the heavy lift project cargo market, its optimised and flexible cargo intake capacity have made the S-Class extremely popular.’

Located in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia, construction began on the Eliwana project in July 2019. The iron ore mining project includes 143km of rail track and a dry ore processing facility (OPF) capable of outputting 30 million tonnes per annum. The project will create up to 1,900 jobs during ongoing construction and 500 full-time site positions once fully operational.

Bernd Schuler, Commercial Manager Australia for DB Schenker Global Projects & Industry Solutions, concluded, ‘We look forward to a successful and safe conclusion to this important project. DB Schenker is proud to design bespoke project cargo solutions for our most prestigious client Fortescue on their Eliwana project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.’

AAL WINS BEST PROJECT CARGO CARRIER 2020 AWARD!

At the 2020 Asian Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain (AFLAS) Awards in Hong Kong on Monday 9th November – an event attended by some of the biggest players in the Asian freight and logistics industry – AAL Shipping (AAL) took the evening’s top project heavy lift carrier award, ‘Best Shipping Line – Project Cargo’.  Given for outstanding service to the Asian Shipping Community, the award recognises the work done by AAL to provide reliable ocean transportation solutions within the region for the last 25 years and a significant milestone being celebrated by the carrier in 2020.

The awards hosted and organised annually by Asia Cargo News, recognise leading service providers including shipping and airlines; airports and seaports; and logistics; 3PLs and other associated industry professionals. The nomination and voting process invited more than 15,000 readers and e-news subscribers to first determine the leading companies in the market and then select their winners, making the results the exclusive opinion of actual service users.

Kyriacos Panayides, Managing Director of AAL, harnessed the win to praise the efforts of the AAL teams on land and sea during what has been one of the most challenging years for the multipurpose and project heavy lift sector, ‘We thank everyone who voted for AAL and the Organisers for putting on such a great awards ceremony. 2020 Has been a perfect storm of challenges for everyone involved in the shipping sector, with trade wars, oversupply, commodity price instability and, last but most challenging of all, the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Marrying the primary need to protect the health and safety of our teams worldwide with the commitment to keep our customers’ supply chains moving has been extremely tough. We thank our excellent team for their continued hard work and resolve. This award is testament to their high customer service ethics and is shared equally amongst them all.’ 

AAL DUBAI MARKS ANNIVERSARY WITH MONTHLY MPP SAILINGS

October 2015 marked the official launch of the specialist heavy lift project cargo and breakbulk carrier AAL’s Middle East Hub Office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Today, despite one of the most challenging periods in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)’s recent history – with oil price instability and COVID-19 causing economic pressure on local economies – AAL is seeing tentative growth in cargo demand through the Middle East and has made a long-term commitment to operating a scheduled monthly multipurpose (MPP) sailing through the region in service of local shippers and project owners, as well as additional tramp sailings when required.

Given domestic and external headwinds, real GDP in the MENA region has been projected to fall by more than 4.7 percent in 2020, reflecting the widescale economic impact of COVID-19 and subdued activity in oil exporters and related sectors. However, fiscal responses put in place by a number of countries in the region, including Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, are casting a lifeline to ongoing power and civil infrastructure projects and supporting local economies.

AAL’s Chief Representative in the Middle East, Karim Smaili, explained; “Green shoots first appeared after central banks began announcing stimulus measures focused on facilitating bank lending and easing loan payments for companies and projects. One of these was the UAE’s Target Economic Support Scheme, which initially allocated USD27bn in zero-interest loans to banks and cuts in capital reserve requirements. Saudi Arabia similarly offered USD13bn to support banks and other countries have followed.”

He added; “Whereas it is difficult to judge how effective these measures will be against a prolonged pandemic, the immediate affect has been more positive for a number of our customers in the petrochemical and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) sectors looking to move forward with projects and reinvigorating trade with Europe, South East Asia, and the Far East. We are also seeing growing demand and imports of general cargoes and even exports from the Middle East of steel and project cargoes to Asia.

“This is evidenced in the growing popularity of our scheduled ‘Europe – Middle East/ India – Asia Monthly Liner Service’ which has, since its launch in 2020, established AAL as carrier of choice with a growing number of local customers. They have not only appreciated the scheduled monthly integrity of our sailings, but have benefited from the economies of scale that our larger mega-size vessels offer and strong relationships we have in place with shippers and port authorities east and west of the region – which has significantly helped during this period of unprecedented cargo and crewing restrictions.”

Smaili concluded; “The landscape of the region is forever changing and challenges like those we see today dictate current operational and financial activity. However, the essence of the people I work with here every day does not change. Since the launch of our Middle East hub, the key factor to building trust has been the localised personal service we provide. The ability to talk and meet with local customers, respond to enquiries in a timely manner, and provide hands-on support during the lifecycle of their cargo shipments has been crucial – today, maybe, more than ever. Our Middle East hub office is further supported by a growing network of top local commercial representatives across the MENA region.”

GIANT CABLE CAROUSEL FOR OFFSHORE ENERGY PROJECT

AAL TRANSPORTS GIANT CABLE CAROUSEL (CIRCUMFERENCE OF 73M) FROM DUBAI TO TAIWAN FOR A US $2 BILLION OFFSHORE CLEAN ENERGY PROJECT

Breakbulk and project heavy lift carrier, AAL Shipping has delivered a cable carousel measuring 23 m in diameter (73 m circumference) to Jan De Nul Group, for the Formosa 2 offshore wind farm project, 9.5km off the coast of north-west Taiwan. The cargo was loaded in Jebel Ali and transported on deck of the 19,000 dwt heavy lift (HL) multipurpose vessel AAL Nanjing to the project marshaling port Taichung. The cable carousel is one of the first major components to be delivered to Taichung Port where works have begun to develop the project’s operations and maintenance base. The Formosa 2 project started construction at the end of 2019 and the project will be in operation in 2021. The offshore wind farm is expected to produce enough green energy to power 380,000 households a year and offset 18.75 million mt of carbon emissions in its lifetime.

Yahaya Sanusi, Deputy Head of AAL Transport Engineering, commented, “Manufactured in Norway’s Drammen Yard and designed to spool 3,000 t of undersea power cable, the carousel alone weighed over 370 t. The unit was loaded and discharged using both the Nanjing’s port mounted HL cranes and rigged in three points to a 22.5 m lifting beam (with a safe working load of 637 t), which proved to be the safest solution for the lift. Its significant diameter of just over 23 m was slightly less than the 23.4 m beam of the S-Class vessel, but wider than her 18.8 m hatch cover – so it ended-up protruding over both sides of the vessel. Safe to say that we do not leave any stone unturned when planning the optimum transport solution for such complicated cargo shapes and sizes.”

Christophe Grammare, Commercial Director of AAL, added, “This particular cargo was carried on one of our four ‘S-Class’ vessels – a young 19,000 dwt class that is extremely flexible and features a significant 700 t heavy lift capability. With the fleet employment strategy we have in place, we can offer sailing frequency and vessel choice – from 19,000 dwt to 33,000 dwt – to our customers trading between the Middle East and Asia and westwards towards Europe and the US, for multipurpose cargoes of any type and size.

“Of course, added safety and security measures worldwide due to COVID-19 have put a greater strain on our sea and land-based teams and operations, but we accept these measures are now part of the new normal in the shipping sector and carefully factor them into our scheduling and planning to ensure that we manage and then meet the expectations of our customers at all times.”

TWO SIEMENS GENERATORS FOR EU & IRAQ POWER PLANTS

The ‘mega-size’ heavy lift multipurpose vessel (MPV), AAL Singapore, transported two Siemens generators with a combined weight of almost 700mt for two separate gas-fired power plants in Europe and Iraq that will help to generate a total clean energy output of 1,680 MW.

Global project heavy lift carrier AAL has recently delivered two Siemens ‘S-Gen’ generators, weighing close to 350 mt each, for two new clean energy gas-fired power plants in Europe and Maysan, Iraq. The units were built at Siemens’ worldwide energy hub in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, and transported from the Norfolk International Terminals in Virginia, USA, into Europe and Iraq onboard the 31,000 dwt mega-size AAL Singapore. The estimated construction cost of each plant is over USD340 million, and both feature a potential power output of 840 MW.

On route to discharging the second unit in the Port of Umm Qasr, Iraq, the AAL Singapore called Hamburg, Germany, to load an additional steam turbine weighing 317 mt for the same power plant in Maysan.

Marco Wendt, Chartering Manager at AAL Europe – the Hamburg-based office responsible for booking the cargo – commented: “The cargo was carried on a popular trade route, eastbound from the US to Europe, Middle East, and onwards to Asia. The two generators were booked by different customers, including Bertling. We have long-standing relationships with these charterers and worked extremely hard to deliver their cargoes on schedule, powering through the challenges to our sea and land-based operations of necessary COVID-19 restrictions and health and safety measures.”

Eike Muentz, General Manager at AAL Europe, added: “The US – Europe – Middle East – Asia trade is growing in importance for AAL and in May and June alone, we operated 12 multipurpose sailings calling US ports, with more planned in July. This frequency of large tonnage into the region is offering the US multipurpose market much needed support during this challenging time and providing shippers trading in the region with flexibility and economies of scale – no matter how small or large their cargo might be.”

HOW ‘A-BOAT’ THAT! 38 YACHTS IN A SINGLE SAILING

‘MEGA SIZE’ MPV AAL MELBOURNE TRANSPORTS 38 YACHTS ON DECK FROM US TO EUROPE

Award-winning multipurpose and project heavy lift carrier AAL Shipping, in partnership with Peters & May, has successfully transported 38 private yachts – the largest of which was 32m long – on deck in a single sailing from Fort Lauderdale to Southampton and Antwerp. The cargo covered an area of 2,500 m2 – about half the size of a soccer pitch – and was carried aboard the ‘mega size’ 31,000 dwt AAL Melbourne, with her 39,500 cbm intake capacity and weather deck space of 3,000 m2.

Marc Willim, General Manager of AAL’s Chartering Department, commented, ‘With 25-years’ experience delivering tramp chartering solutions and operating scheduled liner services on busy trades around the world, we have carried our fair share of pleasure craft.  Only a few months ago, we transported an 86m long alluminium superyacht hull from China to Australia, the largest single floating cargo piece that we have ever carried.  Similarly, 38 yachts with an average length of 16m on deck requires well-planned stowage engineering and lashing, a first-class crew and a very special ship.’

He added, ‘At a time when the global shipping community is concerned about the ability of MPP carriers to deliver service and schedule integrity, this sailing examples AAL’s own boosted frequency through the US. In a boost to the region’s shippers, in June we have multiple MPP vessels calling US West Coast, Gulf and East Coast Ports and ready to serve market needs.’

Dave Holley, CEO of Peters & May, concluded by saying, ‘moving this many yachts in one go is always full of challenges and we are very careful which carrier we choose for such a voyage. AAL provided us with a timely solution and the whole operation went extremely smoothly. We are now looking forward to our next transatlantic voyage.’

AAL DELIVERS 1,800mt OF GIANT JIB CRANES TO DUBAI

The AAL Melbourne recently loaded two cranes and their components weighing just over 1,800 mt in total in Taicang, for onward transport to Jebel Ali. The 42m high main modules towered over the 31,000 dwt mega-size vessel and, lit up in the evening, took-on an imposing resemblance to two Martian tripods from H.G. Wells ‘War of the Worlds’.

Manufactured in China by global supplier of heavy lifting and handling equipment, Nantong Rainbow Heavy Machineries Co. ltd., the two ‘jib cranes’ were loaded by the mega-size A-Class HL MPV, the AAL Melbourne in Taicang. They were then discharged in Jebel Ali, for deployment at the DP World’s Shipyard in Dubai – the largest facility of its kind in the Middle East, which handles an approximate 350 vessels a year, mostly ultra and very large crude carriers.

Jack Zhou, General Manager of AAL China – the office responsible for booking the cargo – said, ‘The crane components comprised just under 20 big units, the largest of which weighed over 550mt and measuring 115m long. Some we loaded from the wharf and others from a floating barge. They were stowed both in under-deck holds and on the weather deck. Added to this, we received unexpected last minute instructions and changes from the charterer, but were able to safely complete loading to an extremely tight and unmovable loading deadline.’

Nicola Pacifico, Head of AAL Transport Engineering – the function responsible for planning the loading, stowage and discharge operations – explained, ‘Even with a vessel providing 40,000cbm stowage capacity, space was extremely tight on this project. The two main structures had to be secured on specially laid rails. One of these came to within 20 cm of our own ship’s crane. This is very close, as decks are rarely even and such tolerances are unusual. If at any point we thought they might touch we would have had to discharge the structure, move the rails and reload again.’

He added, ‘This is the type of situation where engineering precision and accuracy resonate most. Had we not planned so carefully for the potential risks involved and matched these perfectly against the capabilities of the vessel and skill of the crew, the safety and timing of the entire operation could have been compromised and when you’re dealing with extremely large, heavy and highly valuable project cargo, there is no room for error.’

AAL’s ‘GET ONBOARD!’ CAMPAIGN OFFERS CHARITIES FREE CARRIAGE

AAL is offering cargo transport, free of freight charge, to registered charities worldwide needing to transport vital goods and equipment internationally and suffering the financial effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic and mounting economic pressure on charities to maintain their vital support of worthy causes, AAL – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – is offering these organisations cargo transport on its global fleet to and from any port on its scheduled sailings, free of freight charge. AAL’s ‘Get Onboard!’ CSR initiative is being launched today for an indefinite period and will consider any registered charity worldwide regardless of the chosen cause.

Kyriacos Panayides, Managing Director of AAL, explained, ‘The virus pandemic has taken its toll on not just the shipping sector but businesses and organisations everywhere – devastating supply chains and pressuring financial performance. This is especially true of charities, who rely on the goodwill of individual and institutional donors to get help. Unfortunately, widespread job losses, social distancing regulations and the global economic downturn means they are losing much needed support and revenue.  This, in turn, hurts the beneficiaries of their work the most.’

He added, ‘2020 is our 25th anniversary year and we unanimously agreed to harness this milestone to give something back to the communities that we serve.  Get Onboard! is open to any registered charity – childrens’, environmental, health & disability, welfare and hunger / poverty, community service, educational, animal protection etc. We have a fleet of multipurpose heavy lift ships operating non-stop and carrying cargo between large and small ports in key markets across the world – Oceania, Asia, India, Middle East, Europe, Africa and the Americas. Subject to terms and conditions being met, we will carry containerised (SOC) cargo free of freight charge no matter how long the journey. It’s our privilege to try and help.’ 

Get Onboard! is being officially launched today and AAL will be circulating details and terms & conditions to registered charitable organisation databases and promoting the initiative online via social media. It is also harnessing the group email aal@aalshipping.com, through which interested charities can obtain more information and be guided through the process.

DELIVERING PEACE OF MIND DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

At AAL we have been closely monitoring global developments in relation to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and already undertaken company-wide measures to ensure the health and safety of our people and the continuity of our shipping services and operations during this time and in the event of any regional escalation in threat.

We accept the weight of responsibility to provide trusted global services and connect the supply chains of our customers even during this unprecedented time of challenge. Despite decisions being made at governmental level within each market worldwide, we aim to be as prepared as possible with our own proactive set of business continuity plans to mitigate health & safety risks whilst ensuring that AAL continues to prove services of the highest standard.

We have engaged our QHSE team to work alongside Management and other departments to monitor the pandemic status globally and harmonise new far-reaching protocols, that will guide our working practices until this crisis subdues. These include:

• improved office hygiene and new daily health & safety procedures within the workplace;
• tailor-made remote working / split working arrangements for our offices worldwide;
• meetings, gatherings and business travel restrictions and quarantine directives;
• harnessing of innovative and harmonised communications methodologies and cloud-based technology systems.

Throughout this time, we will remain in constant contact with customers, vendors and other business associates to update you of all significant activity and developments affecting AAL and its global operations. Furthermore, should you have any queries relating to the above, please do not hesitate to contact us anytime at either aal@aalshipping.com, or your local AAL office.

In the meantime, we thank-you for your continued support and wish you, your colleagues and loved ones the very best during this challenging time.

Kind regards

AAL Management

Kyriacos Panayides
Managing Director