Having recently reopened its Guam office after a three-year hiatus using a partner agent, Inchcape Shipping Services resumed direct control over all operational matters on the Pacific island.
Inchcape had a permanent presence in Guam since the 1990s but opted to close its office on the Pacific island in 2018. “Given the volume of business in Guam at that time, it made better financial sense to use a partner agent instead. However, the uptick in volumes after the pandemic justified the move to reopen. Another key reason is that our customers universally want Inchcape to handle their ships, not a third party,” said Ajay Dattaram Bhosle, Inchcape Area General Manager in Singapore.
Inchcape’s Asia-Pacific ROC (Regional Operations Centre) in Singapore has overarching responsibility for operations in Guam as well as the Philippines, Myanmar and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). “However, in future as we grow the team in Guam, they will become the monitoring and communications control point for FSM as well,” Bhosle said.
Guam is strategically very important as a US territory, with increasing activity at two military bases on the island, a U.S. Navy base and a USAF base. “That means we’re handling more calls by logistics and naval ships. Another steady business is the MR tanker Sophia, which calls regularly at Guam. We also handle a smaller tanker distributing fuel onwards to Palau,” said Operations Manager Ariel Dumapit.
Inchcape said its Guam office provides all the usual port agency services but can also deliver more complex services. “Our main business is supporting the military vessels and tankers, as well as car carriers bringing a growing number of new and used vehicles from Japan. We also follow ships up to Saipan and Tinian, our neighboring Mariana islands to the north,” Dumapit said.
Dumapit said the Guam office plans to grow its service reach and grow organically through M&A. Most future business will likely be related to military movements. They also want to grow its footprint in project work. “We’re also targeting the cruise market as tourism picks back up. I recently met up with the Guam Port Authority and representatives from a leading Japan-based cruise line for a tour of the port and a presentation of how we handle cruise ships. The government is also engaged in upgrading the port so everything will look nice when the first cruise arrives, which we expect around New Year,” he added.