Maersk Line has taken the unusual step of imposing a congestion surcharge for fog on ships calling the port of Qingdao in northeast China.
The carrier says the fog season in Qingdao lasts from May to July and that during this period, normal port operations are impacted due to increase in waiting time as a result of fog-related port closures. Last year its ships incurred an additional 490 hours or 20.4 days of waiting time because of fog in June and July.
Maersk also noted fuel costs also increase significantly when ships have to speed up once they leave the port to maintain regular sailing schedules.
The carrier said to recover some of these additional operational costs, it's imposing a $100-per-container charge.
Fog is so bad in some ports that it halts ship traffic.
For example, fog repeatedly halted traffic on the Houston Ship Channel in February and March of this year, and Bloomberg
reported on Feb. 24 that pilots were working to clear a backlog of 93 deep-draft ships.
Nick Cutmore, secretary general of the International Maritime Pilots' Association in London, said "the only place I am frequently aware of halting traffic is in Bosporus. As an international waterway with pilotage optional, and an array of interesting craft sharing water space its only prudent to call a halt to transits.
"In theory technology such as radar should provide the answer but prudence dictates you don't want to meet an unpiloted laden tanker under the bridge
in the narrows of Istanbul," he said. - Chris Dupin