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Suez Canal Incident Shines Light on Alaska Shipping Logistics

March 30, 2021

The cargo ship that has blocked the Suez Canal for the last week is finally free. While the trade lanes affected by the blockage do not directly affect Alaska, the situation is a stark reminder of choke points and single ports of entry along supply chains, says Darren Prokop, Professor of Logistics in the Department of Management, Marketing, Logistics and Business Analytics.

“For ocean vessel activity, the most important entry point to Alaska by far is the Port of Alaska,” said Prokop. “The problem is that it has many vulnerabilities and, like the Suez Canal, if it is impacted in any way, a lot of deliveries to store shelves, fuel tanks, etc. will not happen.”

Prokop’s students in undergraduate and graduate global supply chain management study these kinds of vulnerabilities to prepare for such challenges. In the case of the Suez Canal, shipping companies were able to resolve the situation within a week. “Unfortunately for Alaska, there is no real Plan B if the Port of Alaska were shut down.”

Prokop has been writing regular articles about issues like the Suez Canal blockage for the trade magazine Freightwaves since 2019. Read his article about the Port of Alaska, the teeter-totter in trade routes, and more.

Find out more about our undergraduate Global Logistics/Supply Chain Management degree and our Masters in Global Supply Chain Management, where students develop their skills in the nation’s largest logistics laboratory - Alaska.

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