Hurricane Survival

Keeping the island supplied

How shippers navigate the challenges of stormy seas
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Bermuda is almost totally reliant on seaborne imports for its supply of food and the goods needed by retailers, builders, and almost any other industry you could name. Keeping this supply line running smoothly is critical for the sustainability of the island and its economy.

Shippers do not take this responsibility lightly. Navigating the treacherous waters and unpredictable weather patterns of the open sea is always a formidable challenge. But during hurricane season, when adverse conditions pose greater risks to the timely and safe delivery of goods, shippers employ a range of strategies to mitigate potential disruptions.

From advanced weather forecasting and route planning to robust communication systems and reinforced vessel design, the maritime industry is continuously innovating to ensure essential supplies reach the island on schedule.

Meyer Group is an expert in this field. Established in 1876 by German Captain William E. Meyer as a steamship and coal-bunkering agency, the Meyer Group has significantly expanded its operations over the years. Today, Meyer offers a diverse range of services, including ship, freight, and shore excursion agencies among other things.

With 135 years of expertise, Meyer Agencies Ltd is Bermuda’s premier port agent. Operating full-time offices in Hamilton, St George’s and Dockyard, the company manages the needs of all visiting vessels, from private yachts to commercial cargo ships.

Recognising the increasing complexity of modern freight, the group established Meyer Freight Ltd to provide importers with reliable freight services through two primary links: Bermuda International Shipping Ltd (BISL) from Salem, New Jersey, and Somers Isles Shipping Ltd (SISL) from Fernandina Beach, Florida. Meyer Freight prides itself on delivering fast, reliable, and personalised service to meet the evolving needs of importers.

Jamie McCrae, who oversees Group Administration for Meyer, said: “All ships navigating the world’s oceans are equipped with state-of-the-art weather monitoring systems.

“Captains receive weather alerts from the various ports they call at. For Bermuda, they receive updates via Bermuda Maritime Radio (Harbour Radio) on local weather forecasts and warnings.”

Meyer’s preparation goes beyond the voyage planning stage; it starts with the state-of-the-art design of their ships. This attention to detail, coupled with continuous monitoring of fickle weather patterns and ongoing communication, underscores Meyer’s commitment to safe navigation, particularly during hurricane season.

Meyer employs a variety of sophisticated tools, including state-of-the-art weather monitoring systems, satellite communications, and real-time data analytics to track and predict weather conditions. These technologies provide captains with crucial information about potential weather disruptions, enabling them to make informed decisions about their routes.

However, while technology plays a significant role in these operations, the expertise of skilled personnel remains essential too. The company values the seasoned judgment of its captains, who are entrusted with determining their transit routes to Bermuda. These experienced navigators make real-time adjustments during severe weather conditions, storms, and hurricanes, ensuring the safety of the vessel and its cargo.

Even in an era dominated by advanced technological solutions, the human element remains indispensable. The captains’ ability to interpret complex data, coupled with their practical experience and intuition, is essential for navigating the challenges of the open sea.

Meyer’s approach to dealing with the challenges posed by storms emphasises foresight and meticulous planning. All ships operate on tight schedules, which their captains strive to maintain. However, storms can cause delays that may last a week or two.

While such delays may be inconvenient for stores expecting timely deliveries, when Meyer opts to delay voyages during storms, the decisions are based on prioritising the safety of their crew and cargo. During hurricane season, ships are constantly adjusting their schedules to avoid storms in the Atlantic.

The key to Meyer’s success lies in their proactive approach. By closely monitoring weather patterns and potential storm developments, they can make informed decisions about when to set sail and when to delay. This foresight minimises the risk of encountering dangerous weather conditions, thereby protecting both the vessel and its cargo.

Furthermore, Meyer’s strategy includes maintaining flexibility in their logistics operations. This means having contingency plans in place for rerouting ships or rescheduling deliveries as needed. Such flexibility ensures that, even when delays occur, the impact on the supply chain is minimised.

With climate change expected to bring more intense and possibly frequent storms, the critical challenge for shippers of ensuring the safe delivery of goods to Bermuda during hurricane season is only likely to become greater. The need to prioritise the safety of crew and cargo while sticking to delivery schedules requires a delicate balance.

As hurricane season nears, we can be assured that even during the changing weather, Meyer will always prioritise the safety of crew and cargo, while doing everything possible to maintain essential supplies to the island.

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