Have you ever wondered how goods from across the world make the long journey into the U.S.? A Logistics Manager with East West had a rare opportunity to visit the busy Port of Charleston and get a first-hand look at the exciting import industry. Her story is below:
I had an amazing opportunity to visit the Port of Charleston (the 4th busiest container port in the US, servicing 140 countries and handling $3 Million dollars of cargo every HOUR) and get an up close and personal experience on how freight is moved from all over the world to the United States. I met with the Regional Operations Director of OOCL, a shipping line based out of Hong Kong, who showed us around the Port of Charleston and even arranged for us to board a working vessel. Seeing the port working in action was truly an eye opening experience and brought to my attention the fact that shipping merchandise across the world isn't such a simple process as some people may imagine.
Captain Yang of the OOCL Norfolk showed us around his ship and explained to us how the containers were loaded onto the vessel and secured during the long voyage. Many containers are loaded under the ship’s deck, but most are stacked up to seven high across the ship’s deck. Metal lashes are secured in an X shape across each container on the bottom row as well as on the containers on the outermost side. These lashings keep the containers fastened to the vessel in addition to locks on the bottom corners on the container that secure that particular container to the one below it. In the ballast room on the vessel, the First Mate of the OOCL Norfolk showed us an intimidating control station that monitors the weight of the ship while containers are being loaded and offloaded. When a container is removed from the vessel, seawater is pumped into the ship’s hull to help balance the ship from the now empty container weight. Similarly, when a container is loaded on a vessel, seawater is pumped back out from the departments in the hull to balance the additional weight.
Offloading containers at each port is a dangerous balancing act and a carefully organized process. From the steering room aboard the
Visiting the port in person and boarding a cargo vessel was an impressive experience that put moving freight around the world into a new perspective for me as a Logistics Manager for East West. Learning about the detailed processes and the behind the scenes factors to ship containerized product was incredibly fascinating, and was a trip that will certainly not soon be forgotten.