Ports Closed, Cargo Delayed as Hurricane Maria Causes Widespread Destruction
Ports in the eastern Caribbean island are under condition ZULU, with San Juan closed indefinitely due to lack of power and telecommunications, as Hurricane Maria makes her way northwest.
Hurricane Maria has caused widespread devastation the island of Puerto Rico after making landfall in the U.S. territory just weeks after Hurricane Irma skirted the coast, causing service disruptions for shippers throughout the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico’s power grid is completely offline, with widespread flooding and mudslides a major issue for rescue and clean-up operations after the storm.
The U.S. Coast Guard has declared port condition Zulu for the territory, meaning no vessels may enter or transit within these ports without permission of the Coast Guard, all vessel movements are prohibited and all ship-to-shore crane operations are also banned.
One of the government’s primary goals, however, is to open ports in order to receive aid shipments.
Crowley, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based ocean carrier, has announced that its offices, terminals and operations in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Maarten and Rio Haina are closed.
“Safety is Crowley’s No. 1 core value, and as such, we are taking all appropriate steps to ensure the safety of personnel, including our mariners, all of our vessels, facilities and your cargo,” Crowley said in a customer advisory. “We are coordinating with our vessels to review their routes and plans to keep them well clear of the storm.
“At this time, we are experiencing disruptions beyond our control with many of our services,” the carrier said, adding that its “terminals, warehouse and offices are closed until the storm’s impact has been assessed and safe resumption of operations can be determined.” Delays can be expected at other Caribbean terminals; however Haiti, Cuba and Jamaican ports are currently operating normally, Crowley said.
Tropical Shipping has also announced delays for its services to the Caribbean, with tentative arrivals for delayed cargo due this weekend in St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Maarten and St. Thomas
King Ocean, another Caribbean shipping company, has announced delays for cargo destined for eastern Caribbean ports.
The company also said it is providing free shipping of relief items to government agencies for the people impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. The shipping line is accepting a maximum of two pallets or 100 cubic feet of cargo per shipper until Wednesday, Sept. 27.