JR Shipping Group focuses on the continuity of its operations and seafarer safety in the face of Covid-19
When at the start of 2020 the coronavirus rapidly spread from China over the globe, it soon became clear that we were dealing with a crisis of unprecedented proportions. It was first and foremost a health crisis which would have far-reaching implications for our personal and social lives. The necessary government measures put the international transport sector, crucial for our living standard, under pressure.
From careful optimism to a new state of alert
The unprecedented crisis struck at a time when shipping markets structurally appeared to be on the rebound. After a long series of disappointing years JR Shipping had started to see some light at the end of the tunnel again. 2019 was a transitional year to a new phase in the company’s 25-year business. The prospects for 2020 were prudently optimistic but as the first quarter advanced the world – including the shipping industry – found itself severely disrupted by a state of high alert.
Given that JR Shipping’s container feeder vessels mainly sail under relatively long-term charter contracts, the impact on the operating results was initially limited. However, SeaZip offshore service vessels were directly affected by the consequences of the corona outbreak. Projects were discontinued, and service contracts were suspended. The management had to act fast regarding bridging measures for the SeaZip fleet. These were successfully implemented for SeaZip 3 to 6, laying a new basis for continuity. SeaZip 1 and 2 were sold.
Changing impact on shipping markets
As soon as the first corona wave had passed its peak, the flow of goods from China picked up again and governments worldwide loosened the reins. Since the past summer, the economy seemed to recover relatively fast. All vessels in the JR Shipping container feeder fleet provided the required continuity and standard of transport of goods. Since October, the market charter rates for container feeder vessels have even shown an upward trend. And since November, various vessels of JR Shipping for which new charter contracts had to be concluded are generating daily sales of more than 20% above the average prior to the coronavirus.
From the end of May, the market for offshore wind energy projects was also remobilized relatively quickly. As a result, since June 2020 the SeaZip fleet’s operating results are once again in line with budgetary starting points.
Seafarers responsible for unprecedented performance in corona time
Since the beginning of the corona crisis, JR Shipping company has focused on the safety both of seafarers and the staff of the onshore organization. Particularly for seafarers, Covid-19 had far-reaching consequences. There was no choice but to deviate from the usual shift-rotation schedule, obliging them to work many extra shifts. Crew members were often away from home for much longer than usual and cut off from the outside world to restrict the risk of contagion to a minimum. The shipping management expresses its admiration for seafarers’ commitment and the way in which they adapted to the guidelines. In turn, the onshore personnel provided the crew with excellent support. Where possible, onshore tasks were performed at home, in compliance with the guidelines. In the coming period too, JR Shipping will continue to observe strict safety and hygiene measures.
JR Shipping is currently responsible for twenty container feeder vessels, four offshore service vessels, one offshore survey vessel and one Tall Ship, the Clipper Stad Amsterdam. In 2021, furthermore, SeaZip Offshore Service will conduct the commercial management of two offshore service vessels of a new Dutch fellow shipping company, CoastWise Offshore Services in Zoutkamp, the Netherlands.
In 2021 too, the JR Shipping Group will continue its commitment to fulfilling the shipping industry’s vital function. The efforts of JR Shipping’s container feeder ships are crucial for the continuity of the supply chain, and thereby for international production processes. The shipping industry is responsible for 90% of the worldwide transport of goods. The deployment of SeaZip service and survey vessels goes towards the continuity of offshore wind energy projects, and thereby a sustainable future.