A monsoon has traditionally been a seasonal reversing wind along with corresponding changes in precipitation, however is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and rainfall related to annual latitudinal changes of the Intertropical Convergence Zone between its limits to the north and south of the equator. Usually, the term monsoon is used to refer to the rainy phase of a seasonally changing pattern, although technically there is also a dry phase. It also sometimes describes locally heavy but short rains.
Harsh weather conditions can bring a massive impact on cargo ships and port operations, both in terms of cost, damage and delay. Cargo ships are usually on a very tight schedule and the fuel consumption is thousands of dollars per day. When impacted by a storm, the losses are not only in days of delay but also in massive financial losses as time may have to be made up with increased speed. Inevitably this increases the fuel consumption.
A delay will also bring about disruption in several parts of the supply chain – from port operations to transportation of cargo – affecting the customers eventually. If hit by heavy winds, ports will be unable to operate their cranes, and even have to close down, and extra cargo has to be stored for a longer period of time due to the port’s storm stop.
In fact, some ports might decrease their delay charges and some terminal operators also stop their demurrage and detention clocks when the storm arrives, and start them again once the ports reopen. There is often a negotiation, often based on force majeure, between carriers and terminals after a storm stop. Carriers may pay for storage or they decide to move their cargo to another port.
How to Deal with Extreme Weather Conditions?
Well, no crew on a cargo ship likes to find itself in the middle of a storm. Making sure that the delay is minimized will be crucial, and most cargo ships have implemented safety routines and are equipped with computer systems for weather routing to avoid harsh weather conditions.
Weather Routing Systems
Today, captains also receive weather maps, satellite images, and other information by email. Some cargo ships, such as Evergreen Line, have computer-based weather routing systems installed providing almost real-time weather data in order to optimize the voyage plan.
The thing is that the crew onboard a cargo ship are dependent on reliable weather information to navigate through a harsh weather conditions like a storm. In the past century,, weather updates at sea were restricted to Morse code messages. But since the 1980s, another system was introduced under the name of direct-printing to provide navigational and meteorological alerts and forecasts directly to the ships.