The Cork-Cuba connection – new direct sailing to Port of Cork announced by Maersk

25 April 2016
By David O’Sullivan
david@TheCork.ie

Many people associate Cuba with rhythmic music, such as the following (a classic from Xavier Cugat)….

..but today come an announcement from the world of contemporary business that will have a solid benefit for Cork.

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Maersk Line has announced the first direct service from Ireland to Cuba following the removal of economic sanctions on the American country. Maersk Line, world’s largest container carrier, will start the company’s first ever direct connection between Cuba and Ireland and other Northern Europe ports with the first port call in Mariel, Cuba already on 22nd April. The call in Cuba will be part of the “CRX – Southbound” service operated by Maersk Line, which already connects Cork in Ireland with other Latin American destinations.

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The Mariel (Cuba) to Port of Cork route is a significant development for Irish exporters, as it provides a new opportunity to directly target the Latin American market. The new Port of Cork- Cuba route will have the fastest transit times in the market, connecting exporters and importers to Maersk’s extensive network of feeder connection.

In the past month, Seago Line, Maersk’s dedicated intra-European and Mediterranean short-sea carrier, have already committed to a new direct service between Dublin and Algeciras in Spain (the “Irish Sea” service), offering a 7 day transit time between the two countries. This was a direct result of Irish based customer demand for improved product offering to cover the Irish market.
Liam Lacey, Director of the Irish Maritime Development Office welcomed the announcement from Maersk Line. “The addition of these services adds capacity and choice to the Irish market and represents a strong endorsement by the world’s largest container line of the potential that exists for further growth in the trade to and from Ireland”.

The new Cork – Cuba connection further enhances Maersk Line’s position as a leader in reefer container services. The company has recently added 30 000 new refrigerated containers to its fleet and all refer containers (new ones, as well as those already in service), have been equipped with a new system called Remote Container Management (RCM). Remote Container Management (RCM) is an innovative technical solution that delivers visibility throughout the reefer lifecycle, providing access to key data such as location, power status, temperature, humidity, and air supply. RCM identifies and flags abnormal reefer performance, which can result in risk or damage to cargo. Such risks are shown via system alarms of varying criticality (High, Medium, Low, or Very Low).

The benefits of the new port call in Mariel offered by Maersk Line will include:

  • First direct service to Cuba with the fastest transit times in the market, connecting the main northern European ports to Mariel
  • Weekly feeder service that connects Havana to Santiago de Cuba
  • Cargo release at the port of Mariel, bringing customers closer to Mariel’s special economic zone and logistical facilities
  • Best in class reliability to ensure cargo arrives on time as expected.
    StarCare™, Maersk’s controlled atmosphere container, designed to enhance cargo quality and prolong shelf-life. It can carry bananas over longer distances for up to 45 days.
  • My.maerskline.com, the online self-service tool that allows customers book shipments, track cargo, amend shipping instructions, and much more.
  • Industry-leading CO2 performance, full transparency over supply chain impacts, and access to in-house experts ready to support customers company’s sustainability needs.

In the past few years, the containerised market in Cuba has been growing at a pace of 10-15% per annum. Drivers have been infrastructure investments and modernisation projects, such as the terminal of Mariel, the creation of the Special Economic Zone of Mariel and the refurbishing of the old Havana Port for Cruises. In addition, Cuba has undergone a series of structural economic changes that have had a positive impact on its development by allowing 100% private investments in certain industries and not least the normalisation of the diplomatic relationship with the US.

Maersk maintains these are strong and positive indications that the country will continue to grow at a higher pace in the years to come. Maersk is confident that the new service will support the development of the Special Economic Zone of Mariel, which is set to be the main engine of growth for the country. Maersk is one of the first movers following the removal of economic sanctions and aims to be an active participant in the zone’s development.

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