The South Asian country is an important maritime hub in the Indian Ocean, with an estimated 31,000 vessels a year traversing the East-West trade route connecting the major industrial centres of North America, Western Europe and Asia,
Inchcape’s South Asia Area General Manager Ravi Ramachandran said, “The joint venture, Inchcape Mackinnon Mackenzie Shipping (Private) Ltd, was launched in July this year. This brings to the table the globally uniform service standard of Inchcape together with the local strength and assets of the John Keells Group, which will collectively be able to deliver a superior value proposition to customers,” Ramachandran says.
The landmark collaboration expands Inchcape’s area operation based in Mumbai, India and enables it to deliver maritime services in key areas such as bunkering, husbandry and crew changes for a wide range of vessels – from oil tankers, container carriers and bulkers to ro-ro ships, naval vessels and cruise liners – calling at all ports of Sri Lanka.
Inchcape’s commercial manager for the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, Koushik Chakraborty, points out a major challenge for vessels traversing this major sea passage is securing high-quality bunker fuel at competitive prices with minimal route deviation and time-definite delivery.
The new venture is able to arrange more economic OPL (Out-of-Port Limit) bunkering at the ports of Colombo and Galle, as well as bunkering at anchorage at Hambantota, a newly developed port at the southern tip of Sri Lanka located only 10 nautical miles from the East-West trade route. This is facilitated by the country’s primary supplier of marine bunker fuels and lubricants, Lanka Marine Services, which is part of the John Keells Group’s ports and shipping business along with South Asia Gateway Terminals.
A big issue for ship operators during the COVID-19 pandemic has been ensuring crew changes. With Sri Lanka an important location for switching crews as well as taking onboard spares and provisions Inchcape facilitated the repatriation of hundreds of Indian seafarers from the US, Manila and Singapore at the height of the pandemic.
Over the past year, it has successfully facilitated more than 7000 crew changes across several ports in India for both Indian and foreign crew in line with strict protocols and has now secured permission from local port health authorities to carry out vaccinations onboard vessels with the assistance of trained medical personnel.