October 20 - Rickmers-Linie has announced that it will be making regular monthly calls at the Port of Bilbao, Spain.

Manuel Torres, line manager at E Erhardt y Cia, agents of Rickmers-Linie in Spain, is delighted to have this regular call: "The Port of Bilbao is one of Spain's most important ports for breakbulk and heavylift cargo. There is a lot of traffic, both import and export, which we believe we can attract to the Rickmers-Linie service now that we have this regular call."

To test the strength of the market, Rickmers-Linie has already madeseveral calls recently, mostly on an inducement basis.

Inbound cargoes have included steel plates from Asia and granite blocks from India while export cargoes have largely been machinery and similar products.

Rickmers-Linie says that the decision to make regular scheduled calls into Bilbao has been prompted by a major contract to ship high-speed trains built by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) from Bilbao to Dammam in Saudi Arabia. The contact was signed with the global forwarder Geodis, which is responsible for the overall logistics management of this project.

The trains are being supplied by CAF to the Saudi Railways Organisation and will be used by the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) on a new high-speed passenger service between Riyadh and Al-Haditha.

It is anticipated that the regular monthly calls in Bilbao will be provided through the upgrading of Rickmers-Linie's Europe - Middle East/India service although Rickmers' eastbound Round-the-World Pearl String service will continue to make calls on inducement.

The Pearl String's Rickmers Hamburg called Bilbao in early October to lift a six-car high-speed train set comprising a 21.12 m long diesel-electric power car, four 25 m long carriages and a 25.96 m long driving trailer for Dammam under the contract with Geodis. The power car weighed 95 tonnes while the carriages and driving trailer weighed just under 60 tonnes each.

According to Erhardt's Torres, Rickmers-Linie has the ability to make three calls a month in the Spanish port.

As announced in May this year, Rickmers-Linie is upgrading its Indian service with the addition of new vessels. It will also provide a direct service both east and westbound between Europe and India although calls in Pakistan and the Middle East will be possible on an inducement basis. The base ports served are Hamburg, Antwerp, Genoa, Mumbai and Chennai.

Three new vessels are already operating in this service while a fourth and a fifth are due shortly. Linde and Martin have been longterm chartered by the line while Rickmers Yokohama is the third new vessel in service. Her sistership Rickmers Tianjin was delivered from the Xinshun Shipyard Group in China at the end of September.

The fifth vessel is Baltic Winter, a 19,100 dwt multipurpose heavy-lift vessel with 800 tonne lifting capacity, which was delivered from the Qingshan shipyard in late September 2011. This vessel is now on a six-month charter to Rickmers-Linie. Both Rickmers Tianjin and Baltic Winter are now en route to Europe via India to be phased into the Europe - Middle East/India service.

Built in 2005, Linde and Martin are 12,800 dwt vessels each equipped with two 120-tonne capacity cranes that can be twinned to lift 240 tonnes. Rickmers Yokohama and Rickmers Tianjin are 17,000 dwt vessels each equippedwith two 150-tonne cranes and an 80-tonne crane. This enables them to lift up to 300 tonnes by twinning the two larger cranes.

"In early October, Rickmers Hamburg loaded a six-unit high-speed train set in Bilbao for the Saudi Arabian port of Dammam." Photo: Erhardt