Maui Business

Minor shipping disruptions amid COVID-19 impacts at Young Brothers on Maui

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PC: Courtesy Young Brothers.

Temporary interisland shipping disruptions are expected for small container or palletized shipping as a result of COVID-19 related worker impacts at the Young Brothers shipyard on Maui, Mayor Michael Victorino confirmed.

“On Wednesday of this week, I received a letter from Young Brothers about interisland cargo shipping disruptions that may be occurring,” said Mayor Victorino during an afternoon press briefing on Friday, noting that the impact is due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the maui shipping yard. “Young Brothers will be temporarily suspending most outgoing cargo from Kahului Harbor that [is] not containerized. And also bringing in bulk or pallet shipping that are not containerized–will be interrupted.”

Young Brothers maintains that “there are no delays to Young Brothers’ scheduled sailings to and from Maui next week.” According to the company, “Reduced cargo acceptance and delivery from the Port of Honolulu to the Port of Kahului will continue temporarily through next week due to a COVID-related labor shortage. Currently, operations are limited to only transporting straight-load containers, but as the week progresses, Young Brothers will slowly phase in other types of cargo for shipment.”

Mayor Victorino said he met with company representatives today. “They did tell me… that they are going to try their best to not interrupt in any way the daily normal shipping to Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and the entire state,” said the mayor. “What is in the cards–so that people understand, and this is just temporary until possibly the 16 or 17 or January–is the small container, or the small bulk shipping, or what they call palletized shipping.”

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Young Brothers noted that customers could explore other options, including freight forwarders or air shipping. That choice is at their discretion.  According to Mayor Victorino, the cost for such options could be more expensive.

“But you can be rest assured, you don’t have to run off to Costco, or to Walmart, or to Walgreens, or to CVS/Longs, and start stocking up with toilet tissue and hand towels and other things. We are safe. However, there will be the small shipping–and this will affect like our farmers, our small businesses that ship off maybe flowers and other items–that will affect our consumers here and away with the cost. So just be prepared for slight delays in that area,” said Mayor Victorino.

“We know the people of Hawai‘i count on Young Brothers to deliver the critical supplies they need, and that’s why we are continuing to do everything we can do to protect the health and safety of our team members who make this possible,” said Megan Rycraft, Director of Health, Safety, Quality & Environment at Young Brothers, LLC. “Young Brothers is implementing a suite of enhanced safety measures at ports across the state that we developed with local public health experts.”

Beyond that, Mayor Victorino said the County of Maui is committed to helping in any way it can as far as keeping the public informed on what’s going on.

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“Again, please everyone be cautious, be safe, but please do not rush out to go by any water and all of that. It’s not necessary. This is not a shortage in any way. But just to make sure that people understand, there may be some small disruption in shipments, especially the small shipping,” said Mayor Victorino.

By next Thursday, Young Brothers reports that it plans to fully restore all cargo acceptance and delivery services from the Port of Honolulu to the Port of Kahului. 

At this time, it appears that only Young Brothers is impacted, and no other shippers are affected, according to the Mayor. Victorino said other companies have COVID-19 cases, “but not an adverse number.”  

Young Brothers continues to monitor staffing levels and update customers through email notices. As of Jan. 7, 2022, there are roughly 33 Young Brothers employees at the Port of Kahului, and eight have tested positive for COVID.  The company reports that approximately 90% of team members are vaccinated. 

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According to Young Brothers, the company recently hired The Queens Health Systems to oversee its contact tracing program and consult on enhanced safety and mitigation measures. 

Enhanced safety measures at Young Brothers include: 

  • 10-day isolation following a positive test; 
  • Five-day isolation following exposure and a negative PCR-test result before returning to work;
  • Free at-home PCR tests for any affected ports; 
  • Deployment of face shields and high-quality KN95 or N95 masks for all team members; and, 
  • Additional precautions for essential tug crew members.

This story was updated to reflect additional information provided by Young Brothers.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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