June 1, 2011｜Russia
Researcher, Hokkaido Intellect Tank
What kind of perception is held of tramp ships? From the fact that the main cargo of tramp ships is secondhand cars and the like, then more probably a gray one would be held. In each of the Japan Sea ports recently, however, instances can now be come across sporadically where cargoes of such things as building materials and daily products are exported utilizing tramp ships.
Against this background, Hokkaido has carried out a survey of the service situation for tramp ships with the Russian Far East over the last three years in its ten main ports. The kinds of tramp ships were divided into: specialized vessels for the purpose of the transportation of marine products, raw timber, and coal, etc.; and conventional vessels operating direct shuttle services between Hokkaido and the Russian Far East. In the survey they studied the port entry and departure situation, counting only vessels where the chartering of cargo space was possible.
According to the results of the survey, the port in Hokkaido with the largest number of tramp ships entering and departing port was the Port of Otaru, and it accounted for approximately 80% of the total. The distinctive feature of the loaded cargo on the tramp ships entering and departing the Port of Otaru was that there were a great many instances where vessels entered port empty, loaded with finished cars and car parts, and departed port. Regarding the destination, according to the performance results for the Port of Otaru in 2010 there were records of services every month for the Port of Korsakov in Sakhalin Oblast and Nakhodka Port in Primorsky Krai, and for the Port of Korsakov in particular there were records of port entries and departures of once or more a week.
The greatest merit for the tramp ship activity is that the number of days for transportation is short. For example, the number of days for transportation in the case of using a tramp ship from the Port of Otaru to the Port of Vladivostok is approximately three days, but in the case of using regular container ships (Ishikari Bay New Port/Port of Tomakomai–Port of Busan–Port of Vladivostok), because there is transshipment at the Port of Busan the length of time for transportation is approximately a fortnight.
Moreover, for small quantity cargoes which don’t fill a whole container the maritime freight charge is low. According to the integrated figures of the logistics companies, the maritime freight charge for general cargo from the Port of Otaru bound for the Port of Korsakov is from \6,000 to \20,000 per freight ton, and bound for the Port of Vladivostok, from \3,000 to \25,000. There is a variance in the amount of money, because the payment system differs depending on the vessel and also there are many cases where the ship-loading charge is included in the maritime freight charge, and because the crane usage fee per cargo differs depending on the amount of cargo handled.
On the flip side, regarding the shortcomings, it is difficult to ascertain the port-entry schedules. In the case of tramp ships there are rough service schedules, but they are cancelled if there is no cargo. Moreover, as often loading is by hoisting cargo by crane, it is necessary to be stringent about the packing material as compared to that for container ships.
In the future, in order for tramp ships to become the “trump card” for logistics between Hokkaido and the Russian Far East there are many problems to solve, including the securing of information on the port-entry of tramp ships and the problem of packing. In order to promote the invigoration of logistics between Hokkaido and the Russian Far East, however, for the time being it is necessary to undertake a flexible response with an eye also on the activity of tramp ships, and, via gradually promoting the expansion of the volume of logistics, to elaborate a strategy leading to regular shipping services.
[Translated by ERINA]