Ocean carriers are squeezing their feeder service providers from both sides: firstly, by refusing to entertain contract rate increases, and secondly by turning the heads of shipowners with offers of employment for their vessels.

Port congestion, higher bunker costs and a massive spike in daily charter hire has forced the shortsea carriers to ask for interim increases and higher minimums.

However, according to a director of one feeder operator “Everything is going in the wrong direction as far as our costs are concerned, and the new tenders will have to reflect this, but we cannot afford to be still negotiating next March. We desperately need those increases now,” he said.

His view was echoed by another feeder source who said that he was also concerned about losing his ships to the “big bucks” of the shipping lines. “They have so much money to burn that they are making offers to our shipowners almost on a daily basis for tonnage, either to charter at several times what we are paying for daily hire, or simply ‘an offer they can’t refuse’ to purchase the ship”.

The Loadstar