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Containers on the road

by Ruth Supka – 13.4.2022

For our research cruise on the research vessel Sonne (cruise SO290, Nouméa-Nouméa, April 15 to May 12, 2022), we packed containers with research equipment several months before the cruise. Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan. Thats why we want to start our first blog post of the SO290 expedition by telling you a story about the first obstacles we had to overcome long before we even got to Nouméa in New Caledonia.

On this expedition, scientists from different institutes will have the chance to work together on board. Therefore, containers were packed in advance at AWI in Bremerhaven, at ICBM in Wilhelmshaven and at GEOMAR in Kiel. They were sent ahead, filled with equipment, working clothes and other necessary materials for the work on the research vessel.

  Containers beeing packed and picked up in Wilhelmshaven at the ICBM – SO290 (CC BY 4.0)

At the beginning of the year, the containers were transported by trucks to Hamburg. From there, all five containers were taken to Le Havre to be shipped together to Nouméa in the South Pacific. This is where things got complicated.

Since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, container shipping has  experienced significant problems. Bottlenecks have been occurring more frequently, followed by traffic jams and delays. This affects not only our containers but also all other shipments worldwide.

Wilhelmshaven/Bremerhaven/Kiel/Rostock – Hamburg – Le Havre – New York (USA) – Savannah (USA) – Panama Kanal – Papeete (Franz. Polynesien) Nouméa
RV Sonne in port of Nouméa, 22° 26,6’S 166° 43,3‘E, SO290 – R.Supka (CC BY 4.0)

Only one of the five containers could be shipped as planned and the others remained in port in Le Havre waiting for a new ship. With some delay and many rebookings they went on to New York (USA), Savannah (USA), Panama Canal, Papeete (French Polynesia) to finally arrive in Nouméa in New Caledonia.

While the first container arrived on Monday (11th of April), the other four got here on Thursday and were loaded on Friday. That‘s why our departure was postponed by a few days. Until then, we get to know each other on board and organize our upcoming work. We’re very excited to get started!