Penn State University Press
Reviewed by:
Kevin Cullinane, ed., International Handbook of Maritime Business, Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2010. 394 pages. ISBN: 978-1-84720-934-4. US $215.00.

The maritime transportation industry consists of firms engaged in the liner trade, tramp services, private carriers, shoreside services providers, and an array of intermediaries. From the standpoint of freight movers these industry segments can be further disaggregated into container lines, breakbulk carriers, roll-on roll-off lines, liquid bulk carriers, and dry bulk carriers. Passenger transporting carriers, mainly cruise lines and ferry operators, round out the list of vessel operating firms. Port facilities, whether owned or operated by private firms or public agencies, also require stevedoring firms, breakbulk facilities, barge and lighterage providers, bunkerage and ships stores provisioners, and tugboat operators. Any book calling itself a handbook of this business would, by definition, need to be a most complex undertaking that would likely be presented as a multivolume offering.

One cannot engage in a thorough understanding of the maritime business without first also obtaining a grounding in the roles of the intermediaries involved, which can be segmented into those focusing on carriers and those for shippers. Ship agents and shipbrokers arrange for vessel charters, long-term and voyage, respectively. The other intermediaries could include the insurance carriers, nonvessel-operating common carriers (NVOCC), coopers, marine surveyors, and freight forwarders. Added to these would also be the admiralty law firms—that specific branch of the legal profession dealing with contracts and disputes most often involving losses. [End Page 137]

The various rules governing liability, the flagging sovereignty of vessels, laws of cabotage, and vessel crewing are unique to this mode. Practitioners are involved with arranging for transportation, insuring the goods during movement, loading and unloading cargo, conducting linehaul transportation, preparing documentation, coordinating between participants including shippers and consignees, and settling legal disputes. Therefore, to say that the maritime industry is in serious need of a comprehensive handbook that could serve as a roadmap for the uninitiated as well as the novice practitioner is to merely state the obvious.

Inasmuch as Webster defines a handbook as “a) a book capable of being conveniently carried as a ready reference manual; and b) a concise reference book covering a particular subject,” the work reviewed clearly is neither. Second, a handbook usually suggests utility for a certain audience, in the case of this book, supply chain practitioners, again a matter that could prove doubtful given the esoteric nature of many of its chapters. Finally, a handbook typically attempts to focus its topical coverage within clearly established parameters, which does not appear to be the case given the aforementioned key issues of the industry.

Following the editor’s comments, which comprise chapter 1, one encounters a valuable discussion of supply chain efficiency in general and port efficiency, specifically, in its addressing of both bulk as well as containerized cargoes. The principal message is that any given port is an element in myriad supply chains, each with a different set of strategic imperatives, is one worth remembering. This is especially the case given, that ports must respond to a range of different demands expressed by shippers and consignees dealing in cargoes of different values, volumes, temporal sensitivities, and regulatory restrictions. Any single port will thus be a node in potentially thousands of individual supply chains.

The remainder of the book consists of fifteen chapters representing an eclectic mix of topics that includes the various issues of shippers and consignees dealing with ports, terminals, containerized cargoes, the liner industry, and how the maritime industry fits into the overall theme of integrated logistics—indeed representing a far-too-brief primer on these topics. Among the final chapters one finds the treatment of such perhaps out-of-scope topics as investment in the European ferry markets, hedging in the Capesize forward freight market, and the training of dual-purpose officers. All three chapters make for interesting reading, but each is clearly out of place with the twelve preceding chapters and are hardly issues worthy of coverage in a handbook intended for a general audience. [End Page 138] Moreover, these three chapters do not share common themes with one another, prompting the reader to question their utility for a book intended for a general audience.

The foregoing comments, however, is not to suggest that this book carries no merit, because it clearly does. Those potential readers who look for this volume to fill its intended niche of being a handbook will, of course, be disappointed that it is not a reference manual per se to which they can turn in search of answers to questions of a practical nature. For those students of logistics and supply chain management, including many academics, the book may prove valuable insofar as each chapter contains a robust list of cited materials. [End Page 139]

Richard Young
Professor of Supply Chain Management
Capital College
The Pennsylvania State University