Ro-ro vessel M/S ML Freyja has arrived in Turku in the morning. Steel products and machines have already been unloaded from the ship. Outbound goods include, for example, Sandvik's mining equipment, Metso’s rock crushers, and Targa motorboats. There also seems to be some steel and timber.
Timo Helanto, Managing Director of Mann Lines, says that large machinery is usually shipped to Bremerhaven, Germany from where it continues on big ocean liners to different continents. Steel products are transported e.g. to the ship’s latest port of call, Rotterdam. Sawn timber, mostly products for households, is currently exported in high volumes to the British Isles in particular.
“Apparently there is a serious home improvement boom going on in England, people are now fixing their gardens and making small buildings”, Mr. Helanto says.
ML Freyja’s route is Turku-Bremerhaven-Harwich-Rotterdam-Cuxhaven-Paldiski-Turku. The ship tours the route approximately three times a month.
Brexit added bureaucracy
Mr. Helanto says that Brexit has affected ML Freyja’s operations very little.
”Brexit did not result in import or export duties, but customs clearance needs to be filled out. Our customers are, however, fairly big industrial companies that already know bureaucracy as they have exported goods to outside Europe. For them, it wasn’t a leap into the unknown.”
He says that the situation may be different for smaller companies. Cargoes of private individuals from England, such as e.g. transports of cars bought in the British Isles, have decreased somewhat due to the new VAT charge.
“From our point of view, it seems that there is plenty of exports to Britain, but not quite as much imports. You could deduce from that that the Brits scored an own goal with Brexit.”
Container shortage increases demand
The global goods transport has also been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It lies, for example, behind the global shortage of containers. There are at least as many containers as before, but they always seem to be in the wrong places.
Mr. Helanto says that the situation is also visible at Mann Lines. Due to the shortage of containers the demand for trailer and mafi platform transports has clearly increased.
“Goods may e.g. be shipped on trailers to another port where there are containers, and the transport then continues on board a large container ship.”
“In transports inside Europe trailers have of course been the number one choice all the time.”
Garden gnome, by ro-ro you would already be at your destination!
A while ago, container traffic encountered extra trouble, when a large container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. That caused major distress in England, because it also stopped the garden gnomes on their way there. The availability of garden gnomes has been poor on the British Isles for a long time.
“Hey garden gnome, by taking a ro-ro vessel and a trailer you would already be at your destination”, Timo Helanto chuckles.
Text: Matti Välimäki Photos & video: Ilari Välimäki
Rotterdam line was much needed
M/S ML Freyja has been calling in Rotterdam on its route for about a year now.
The biggest port on Europe was added to the route partly due to Brexit, as there was more space on board when imports from England decreased.
“The Rotterdam line has been busy. We have carried, among other things, steel and used work and agricultural machinery to Rotterdam. Imported items include e.g. used machines”, Timo Helanto says.