ASF Logistics is a Mobile, AL based full service international logistics provider, freight forwarder, NVOCC, and custom’s house broker. ASF specializes in providing customers with solutions that provide for the optimum flow of goods, materials, and information. All business conducted as an Ocean Transport Intermediary as defined by the Federal Maritime Commission is conducted only by ASF, Inc. ASF, Inc is licensed with the Federal Maritime Commission as an Ocean Freight Forwarder and Non-Vessel Operating common carrier under Ocean Transport Intermediary License No. 020898NF.

ASF Logistics Named to 2012 Best Companies ListBusiness-Alabama-Best-Companies

ASF Logistics announced that the company, which is headquartered in Mobile, Alabama, has been recognized as one of the 2012 “Best Companies to Work for in Alabama” in the small business category. 

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Nine years and $5.4 billion in the making, the Panama Canal’s new, larger locks are opening amid questions about the impact they’ll have on an uncertain global trade and container shipping environment.

The biggest questions involve trade between Asia and the U.S. East and Gulf coasts, where ports have invested tens of billions of dollars in dredging and other investments aimed at cutting into the West Coast’s dominant trans-Pacific market share.

East and Gulf ports have been nibbling away at the West Coast’s market share, and hope the Panama Canal’s added capacity will accelerate their momentum. During the nine months ending in March 2016, their market share inched up to 33.9 percent, from 29.1 percent two years earlier, according to PIERS, sister product of within IHS.

The canal’s new locks will open Sunday when the Cosco Shipping Panama, with a capacity of 9,443 twenty-foot-equivalent units, will make the first commercial passage. The expansion project was completed this spring, two years behind the original target of the 100th anniversary of the canal’s opening in 1914.

The new locks measure 1,200 feet by 160 feet and will accommodate container ships that carry up to about 13,000 TEUs, depending on the design, and that draw up to 50 feet of water. That’s nearly triple the 4,500-to-5,000-TEU capacity of current Panamax vessels using the century-old, 1,000-by-110-foot locks, which have a maximum draft of 39.5 feet.

The canal expansion is the product of years of studies, notably a tripartite report that the U.S., Japan and Panama funded in the 1980s. Construction began in 2007 and has been punctuated by controversy involving repeated delays, a messy dispute over construction overruns, and the 11th-hour discovery of concrete flaws that pushed back the opening. Dry weather from the current El Nino weather pattern has renewed questions about draft restrictions.

But by any standard, the expansion is a monumental project that will affect global transportation for decades, as the existing canal has done. Even before the new locks open, the project already is influencing industry decisions about routes, rates, capacity and more.

The industry reacts

Anticipating a surge in trans-Pacific container shipments that now move via the U.S. West Coast, East and Gulf coast ports have spent more than $150 billion to deepen harbors, expand terminals and improve rail and road connections from their docks.

Carriers have begun upsizing Asia-East Coast services to take advantage of the new locks. Six vessel strings — four from the CKYHE Alliance and two from the G6 Alliance — have announced enhanced Asia-U.S. East Coast services using more than 50 ships with capacities of 6,000 TEUs to 10,000 TEUs.

These ships replace nine current strings, eight of which use Panamax ships. Separately, Mediterranean Shipping Co. has replaced Panamax ships with 8,000-TEU to 9,000-TEU ships on a Europe-West Coast South America route through the canal. The 2M Alliance of Maersk and MSC plans to shift one of its Asia-East Coast services that use the Suez to Panama.

Many consultants and industrial real estate developers predict the canal expansion will accelerate a gradual shift of U.S. containerized imports from Asia, now dominated by West Coast ports, toward the East and Gulf coasts.

The canal expansion “marks a fundamental shift in the shipment of Asian goods to the Eastern U.S.” said David Egan, head of industrial research in the Americas for real estate firm CBRE. “The short term won’t bring massive, game-changing gains for East Coast ports, because much of that repositioning already occurred in recent years,” Egan said. “But it will shift U.S. cargo from slightly favoring the West Coast to a more even split between the two coasts.”

East and Gulf coast ports expanded their share of containerized cargo during severe West Coast congestion during International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract negotiations in late 2014 and early 2015, and retained some of the increase.
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Analysts: 2017 will be another year of torment for carriers

Container shipping analysts are predicting a $10 billion industrywide loss this year after a thoroughly depressing first quarter that saw freight rates declining to negligible levels.

Few carriers reported a profitable first quarter as they waged an intense price war that caused a severe drop in rates, led by Maersk Line. The world’s largest container carrier saw a 26 percent drop in revenue per 20-foot-equivalent unit that only yielded a 7 percent gain in volumes. Drewry said carriers such as APL, Hanjin and “K” Line weren’t even compensated with larger volumes for their rate discounts.

But it was not only spot prices that were at poor levels. Soren Skou, Maersk’s chief executive, said contract freight rates on the Asia-Europe and trans-Pacific trade lanes were much lower than those signed last year and the carrier would be placing a greater focus on the spot market.

According to the Drewry Benchmarking Club Contract Rate Index, based on average trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe contract freight rate data provided confidentially by shippers, rates declined 29 percent in the year to May as shippers secured big cuts in Asia-Europe annual contract rates and then considerable reductions in trans-Pacific rates effective from May.

“The price war between carriers in the container shipping market continues, and this is, for now, resulting in substantial reductions in contract rates for exporters and importers buying under contract,” said Philip Damas, head of the logistics practice at Drewry.

Shipping lines operating on the eastbound Pacific routes recently completed what has been called the most disappointing service contracting season on record.

Informal discussions with carriers and beneficial cargo owners by reveals that trans-Pacific service contracts for the largest retailers dropped below $750 per 40-foot container to the West Coast and $1,500 per FEU to the East Coast for the season that runs from May 1, 2016, through April 30, 2017.

Those previously unheard-of rates in the busiest U.S. trade lane have likely hit bottom, industry analysts believe. That would be appreciated by the carriers, because the historical comparisons are shocking. Historically, contract rates were in the range of $1,800 to $2,000 per FEU to the West Coast and about $3,000 on all-water services to the East Coast. So the lines will be making 50 percent less per container in the Asia-U.S. trades than they did last year.

U.S. containerized exports rose in the first quarter of the year for the first time after declining for six successive quarters, said Mario Moreno, IHS Maritime & Trade economist. But he pointed out that first-quarter growth of 3.2 percent was far from remarkable as it is compared to a very weak base in the first quarter of 2015. Exports for the full year are expected to grow 1.3 percent compared with a previous forecast of a 1.5 percent decline.

Looking forward, Moreno said the trade will continue to experience headwinds through the rest of the year as global demand continues to be very weak, and the adverse effects of the severe U.S. West Coast port congestion in early 2015 continue to be felt in the form of waning trust from Asian buyers.

With the back-to-school and holiday shipments on the horizon, container lines remain optimistic that by fall they can push spot rates back up toward the levels of $2,000 per FEU to the West Coast and $3,000 to the East Coast, which would be considered normal, and possibly at least break-even.

When it comes to volatility, however, nothing can top Asia-Europe. The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index is updated on’s Market Data Hub every week and the spiking chart looks a lot like a seismograph during an earthquake.

And yet there is something curious going on in Asia-Europe. Alphaliner reports that the number of weekly services on Asia-Europe routes was cut from 2015’s 21 loops to the current total of 17 as container lines cancel voyages and lay up entire strings of vessels.

However, while permanent capacity cuts have proved to be the only effective way for carriers to revive the ailing freight rates amid weak market demand, the relatively successful May general rate increases were not repeated by the June 1 GRIs. This was despite carriers reporting ships being fully utilized and cargo being rolled.

According to Drewry, the rate decreases were more severe than they might otherwise have been because of the predatory commercial strategies of the first quarter. The basic supply and demand fundamentals were actually better for carriers in the first quarter than in both the previous three months and the same period in 2015 as head-haul ship utilization in the east-west trades averaged close to 90 percent, aided by void sailings, according to Drewry research.

Something else shippers are watching with great interest are the redrawing of alliances. From April 2017, new alliances will start operations, which means Asia-Europe shippers will need to negotiate contracts at the end of 2016. Trans-Pacific contracts will run until April 2017, and the next contract rate negotiations will involve the new carrier partnerships.

Instead of four alliances to choose from, there will be three. The 2M between Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. is the only survivor of recent liner consolidation, with the newly formed Ocean Alliance (CMA CGM, China Cosco, Evergreen Line and Orient Overseas Container Line) and the THE Alliance (NYK, MOL, “K” Line, Hanjin Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd and Yang Ming).

A small but significant part of any major shipper’s transport portfolio is air cargo, and there is plenty of space available on the major routes with the rapidly growing passenger side of the business continuing to ramp up belly cargo capacity.

This comes at the same time that world trade is weakening. The first quarter of 2016 saw the first annual decline in trade volumes since the global financial crisis in 2009, and the World Trade Organization has predicted only sluggish growth for the remainder of 2016.

“While the April uptick in demand growth for air cargo was encouraging, the overall economic environment is not. The decline in global trade does not bode well for air cargo markets in the months ahead,” said Tony Tyler, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association.
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June 10, 2016

Re: SOLAS VGM – Container Weight Verification

As you are likely aware, the new SOLAS container weight verification requirements will go into effect on July 1st, 2016. Updates from specific ports/terminals and procedural requirements from ocean carriers are still evolving and we are closely monitoring these to keep you informed and prepared.

Based on the latest information received, it appears that most major ocean carriers are introducing web tools for shippers to directly input the VGM on their specific website. Many carriers will also accept this information via EDI or by email. To streamline the process for our shippers, we simply request that you submit your VGM to ASF and we will declare it to the ocean carriers on your behalf.

Following is a list of major North American ports along with their current positions with regards to VGM. We have also listed a few links to ocean carrier websites, which contain some helpful information, FAQ’s, etc.

ASF will provide all shippers with the ASF VGM template which should be filled out and submitted to ASF for the processing of your VGM declarations.

As info, there will be a separate cut off date for VGM submission which will be listed on your booking confirmations. Carriers will look to keep this cut off as close as possible to the cargo CY cut off.
As mentioned, we do anticipate further changes and developments from both individual terminals and ocean carriers. We’ll keep you updated with any material updates. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact your preferred ASF contact with any questions or concerns.

SOLAS Weighing Options By Port

Baltimore: Ports America Chesapeake terminal plans to provide on-site container weighing services to shippers whose boxes arrive at the waterfront without VGM documentation for a fee which is TBD.
Boston: Will not provide container weighing services.

Charleston: Port of Charleston officials have said they will be offering an on-site container weighing service with a $25 per container cost to the shipper.

Houston: Will not provide container weighing services.

Jacksonville: Will not provide container weighing services.

Los Angeles/Long Beach: Will not provide container weighing services.

New York/New Jersey: PNCT has announced that it will provide container weighing services to shippers for $69.10 per unit. Procedures for the other NY/NJ terminals are still TBD.

New Orleans: Will not provide container weighing services.

Norfolk: The Virginia Port Authority plans to provide container weights to exporters. A more detailed operating policy on the matter is forthcoming.

Oakland: Will not provide container weighing services.

Savannah: The Georgia Ports Authority has announced that it will be weighing shippers’ containers at no cost.

Tampa: Will not provide container weighing services.

Vancouver: DP World’s Port Metro Vancouver terminal plans to provide container weighing services for $245 per container. Procedures for the other Vancouver terminals are TBD.

Wilmington: The North Carolina State Ports Authority has said that while it will accept and receive containers into its terminal without accompanying VGMs and will offer a gross weight to carriers, those weights may not be consistent with the method of calculation as described in SOLAS

Still TBA: Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Montreal, Mobile, Miami/Port Everglades.


APL SOLAS Handbook

APL SOLAS Implementation Map

APL Container TARE Weight Query Tool

APL VGM Submission Template




CMA VGM Info Page


Click on “SHIPMENT LINK” and follow links to VGM info.

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Mission Statement

ASF Logistics strives to be the company of choice for global logistics by fostering a collaborative environment of partnerships, teamwork, and creativity. Our goal is to consistently deliver a competitive advantage to our customers through innovative and customized solutions which add value and sets them apart from their competitors.

Logistics & Supply Chain Solutions

  • Vendor management
  • Document management
  • Information management
  • Purchase order management
  • Cargo management and flow optimization
  • Consolidation
  • Carrier management
  • Transport management
  • Import planning and coordination
  • Customs house brokerage
  • Cross-docking and trans-loading
  • Distribution