Transhipment Hubs Floating Harbors

	BERMUDA | Monday October 3, 2016


Bigger’s better: The largest cargo ship in the world, the TEU

On New Year’s Eve, I made several resolutions; one of them needs to be shared. In
the later part of 2011, there was an online blog precipitated by one of
my articles. The essence of the blog was a challenge to find a solution
for our then and still now ailing economy. I had posited the
position that it was the private sector and not the government that
created wealth, and rather than as at that time blame government, let’s
find solutions.I began that journey right online and, not
surprising, the underused airport was the first area of the economy
targeted. The idea of an airline passenger hub was ruled out because of
potential noise pollution to neighbours and cost of fuel. However, a
commercial commodities cargo hub seemed to be a better fit. The question of how these commodities as cargo would arrive in Bermuda led to a discovery in the field of shipping. The
biggest discovery was learning about what has been the direction of the
cargo industry, which has been almost completely revolutionised by the
use of containers, even for the movement of bulk such as aggregates. Given
that movement by sea is infinitely cheaper than by rail or air, the
other tendency in the industry is the use of larger and larger ships to
achieve greater economies of scale. The largest ship in the ocean
today, the 18,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent container) as a comparison
has 49 times the capacity of the Oleander, which docks here weekly. The
current talk in design is to build the 25,000 TEU ship. The clear challenge to our waters is the 52ft depth of the submerged hull needing a further four to five metres’ clearance.
Having fully rationalised the logistics in every area, including
channel reconstruction, the real truth is Bermuda can actually be made
to accommodate the latest trend in the industry. The journey led
me to understand that Bermuda as an air and cargo destination had not
evolved past its Second World War efforts and has become outmoded while
nations to our south, such as Jamaica and the Bahamas, have since
recognised their deficiency and are updating. Because these large
ships need a deepwater harbour and while gateways are more efficient,
transshipment hubs have become useful in speedily conveying to smaller
ships accessing shallow harbours and short-term storage in the movement
of container traffic. Singapore, whose economy was completely
transformed by its convenient position in the Pacific shipping lane, is
the largest example. There are additional benefits of being an
international shipping hub: it puts Bermuda in the direct lane of
producer nations. Products that bypass Bermuda then track back through
many hands and will hit our location directly, which means it has the
potential of significantly lowering the cost of imported goods. It also
opens up the door for light manufacturing and export when you have
convenient shipping access to the world. It increases our existing
international business and our banking sector, as these port-related
industries have a presence in Bermuda. Most importantly, it offers our
youth the opportunity in future years to have the global opportunity to
launch their own ideas. Transshipment has the potential of
generating air cargo at the airport via sea to air, with a cumulative
benefit of bringing hundreds of millions of fresh foreign currency
earned on the international market. Bermuda has lost its maritime
advantage, which has been its principle benefactor since its discovery
in 1609.We generated revenues because we were relevant, particularly as a strategic, military sea and air connection. The
idea makes sense to the shipping industry experts, whom I have engaged,
and to most rational persons, one of them a former member of Bermuda
First, which was a team of CEOs and top financial advisers specifically
put together to find new revenues, said “in five years they have
effectively found nothing but this idea for giving up a little ‘Queens
Bottom’ which isn’t earning anything gives us everything we have been
looking for.” If it’s so good, then perhaps it’s too good to be
true? No, the issue has more dynamics. I am afraid the age-old Bermuda
dynamics of who will own and control it. You see, when you mention
ports, like the game of Monopoly, you are talking about a strategic
armlock on the country. So here is the good news, this idea was
borne out of a need to improve the Bermuda economy and not because the
initiator was looking for a personal business opportunity. The old
saying “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”
becomes the fulcrum or the rock upon which this idea will stand. So I
don’t want to hear any more about “my idea”; it’s yours. I am a
businessman with a family DNA for business that stretches back a couple
of centuries in Bermuda, but my larger interest is socioeconomic
activism. This idea was spawned by the trait of activism, not simply
business. Therefore, by its nature, it belongs to people whom I
have struggled to empower for the most part of my life, which truthfully
means everyone. I love the shrewd business acumen known to our
countrymen and see so much potential in expanding their base while
including those who have been left out of the race. Therefore my new
year’s resolution that I share is to announce that the port idea, which
is firmly on track under Atlantic Bermuda Transshipment Company Ltd, was
always intended to be broadened and will develop the requisite
construct to engage the interest and ultimate significant ownership of
the public. We must not allow those with a narrow agenda to take control
and put an armlock around the future economy of Bermuda because, in the
words of MJ’s song, “they don’t really care about us”.