New 40’HC dry containers within sight!

Marfret is again expanding its fleet of containers with 200 brand new 40’ high-cube dry units. Fresh from the construction factories, the containers have left Asia and are on their way to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. They will be available for bookings in the very first days of May.
A highly sought-after commodity at the moment, 40’ HCs provide an increased load capacity of between 10 and 15% over standard containers due to their extra 30cm in height.
With this new order, Marfret is reassuring customers that there is availability on the market and demonstrating the company’s ability to accompany its customers in their growth.
For a number of years, Marfret’s logistics department has continued to order containers in order to keep up with demand and provide recent equipment. In 2020, Marfret already increased its fleet of 40’HC dry by 10% and invested in 550 new reefer containers.


Like ships plying the trade routes, emotions take us from one continent to another. The year 2020 was a breaking point. The pandemic swallowed up our world, the former open world. The explosion of digital communications, electronic messages and video conferences and the imposition of preventive measures and social distancing have created abyssal fractures in human relations.

It is difficult to imagine going back to a past time. Once the shock of the first months had passed, the pandemic rolled on relentlessly. Emotions were confined as months passed. At Marfret, we could not get used to carrying out our shipping business without the contact with others, with the foreigner for whom we carry essential and non-essential goods. The meeting of ship and quayside has an almost sacred quality at port call, the ship’s rendezvous with its cargo.

Once the goods are on board, the ship leaves the coast behind, the separation is complete. The land-dwelling consumers erase the weeks at sea from their minds, in denial of the whole maritime adventure. Containers do not teleport themselves along submarine cables just yet!

Our everyday heroes, the personnel on shore and crews onboard ship have never failed. Together they have made sure departures, arrivals, port calls and sailing frequencies all went to schedule. We at Marfret do not believe our job merely consists of transporting goods from A to B in a mechanical, functional way -goods that, paradoxically, have never been so plentiful since the end of 2020.  This measure of emotion, close to our hearts and upon which all human activity is founded, at Marfret we find it in our work with artists.

On board the Marfret Guyane, painter, photographer and video artist Yvan Salomone spent 42 days at one with the container ship. Giving free rein to his imagination, his watercolours reveal an infinite palette of emotions. His poetic underlying theme takes us into the world of the watchkeeper. With his artist’s sensitivity, he conjures up the crashing of waves, the deafening rumble and vibrations of the Marfret Guyane’s engines as it speeds through the ocean at 20 knots laden with 22,000 tonnes of cargo. The odd man out of the voyage, he knew how to keep a low prog=file among the crewmembers, a chameleon capturing the seamen’s variable-pitch emotions. The book “42 Days”, comprising text, photos and 12 watercolours, is the fruit of his double Atlantic crossing. A film was also made during the journey.

In these dehumanizing times, in which the government has left culture behind, teetering on the brink, artists have a crucial role to play. They can help us get through these difficult moments in which we are losing our bearings. In this dawning year, let us set our course and hold the helm firm in the hope of better times to come.

May we wish you, and those close to you, a very Happy New Year.    

The challenge of changing crews during a pandemic

When the entire planet is urging people to stay at home to avoid the propagation of the Covid-19 virus, seamen remain at sea ensuring fruit, meat, wine, television sets and cereals reach their destinations without fail to avoid any shortages. One year on from the start of the pandemic, Marfret applauds its crew members’ devotion to duty. The company has had to overcome the huge challenge of organizing crew changes in a context of constantly changing rules, while ensuring its crews’ wellbeing. 

“I would like to pay tribute to our seafarers, who for many months have been on the front line of our efforts to transport the goods we consume. Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, and Tahiti have been supplied or a regular basis, despite the low load factors. While millions of people have been in lockdown, our seamen have remained on deck. We organise crew changes at very reactive ports such as Rotterdam and Algeciras and carry out PCR testing,” says Marfret managing director Guillaume Vidil.

In December 2019, when it took delivery of the Douce France in China, the company has been made aware of the health emergency.  “As soon as December, we were notifying ships crews and putting in place measures to disinfect common areas. From that moment onwards, we prohibited crew members from coming ashore and restricted access to ships to the strict minimum, including for our agents and port operations staff,” explains head of EHS Sébastien Blancher. To counter any risk of contamination, Marfret suspended crew changes as from 17th March 2020. Since that date, even classification surveys, where possible, have been carried out remotely!  

The masks come off

“The time spent on board ship has never been more than nine months. Marfret organised its crew changes just before the pandemic went out of control. Our crewing agencies V Ships and Marlow Navigation were really helpful in arranging flights home for our Russian, Ukrainian and Romanian seamen, a huge challenge given the cancellations that followed the closing of borders. This was also a problem for many months in the Philippines. Our crew members conducted themselves in an exemplary fashion,” underlines Marfret ship’s captain Charles Gauthier. One asymptomatic positive case was detected on 9th December during a changeover in Santos, Brazil, with local authorities requiring the Marfret Marajo to remain anchored for 14 days, which disrupted sailing schedules. “The crew stayed quarantined in their cabins and work rosters were reduced to a strict minimum, with longer meal breaks. We monitored things on a daily basis, with temperatures being recorded,” adds Sébastien Blancher. There are two units on hand to provide the French and foreign crew members with psychological support.

To keep its staff better informed, Marfret sends out monthly health bulletins with advice and information about the pandemic’s progress country by country. Three days prior to boarding, officers and crew members must take a PCR test and are particularly careful not to expose themselves to the virus during the last 15 days on shore. “The seamen are understanding, since they know all these health measures are for their safety,” concludes Romain Arnone, crewing assistant at Marfret. The only cause for satisfaction for crew members on board is that the masks can come off.