What to do when an Oversize Naval Shipment to Japan is Stopped: Improvise

Case Studies, D.O.D., Oversize


A Naval Japan-bound shipment of two huge cargo pieces was going nowhere fast in California, held up by screeners at a Los Angeles air carrier.

At ICAT Logistics Detroit, one of our import-export specialists was already in motion, diagnosing the problem, updating our customer and advancing a solution.

The situation called for our brand of R&R: Respond and Rescue.

On the case was Dave Saladin, who determined that one of the two pieces was flagged upon screening and denied loading as air freight.

“TSA Inspectors don’t always immediately disclose why a shipment was held up, but they make it clear they will not approve putting suspect pieces five miles above people’s heads,” said Saladin.

Reasons for such delays vary: size, shape, density, electronics and the potential presence of fumes, odors and solvents. Screening takes a variety of forms, including visual inspections, hand wands, customs sniffing dogs and X-rays.

“Now what?” the customer asked.


Saladin knew already that ICAT Logistics Detroit had arranged proper customized crating of the materials. Whatever problem existed had been introduced outside our involvement. Saladin also knew that inspectors sometimes are slow to disclose their cause for concern. Rather than wait, Saladin checked with contacts and sources to assess the situation.

The oversize cargo – heading for U.S. naval ships patrolling the coast of Japan – came in two components, exceeding 20,000 pounds.  The assignment embraced several elements that called upon our shipping expertise: military goods, oversized products, and detailed packaging stipulations.

Saladin soon learned that one of the shipments had been cleared as air freight, but the other was grounded. His next move: To assure air delivery of the good-to-go piece while arranging ocean delivery for the other. A relieved customer signed off on the revised strategy.

But there was a catch: One of Japan’s 16 national holidays was fast approaching. Unless adjustments were made, the cargo might arrive and sit idle until workers returned from their holiday break.

Delays meant dollars, and Saladin knew he needed to devise a plan to trim storage and shipping costs. 


“Dealing with complications is what differentiates us,” said Saladin.

Step One was to communicate fully with the customer and lay out the best options, while anticipating potential ripple effects.

“Honesty, transparency and empathy smooth out the roller coaster ride on the way to the other side and a successful delivery,” he said.

Moving forward, Saladin negotiated terms and conditions for a customized container to handle the trip across the Pacific. Meanwhile, he teed up an associate in Japan to assure that components arriving at different times by air and sea were coordinated and received for maximum efficiency.

In the process, Saladin was able to reduce the overall cost for the customer, shrinking the total bill by thousands of dollars.

The Outcome:

With Saladin keeping close watch, the air freight was efficiently delivered to Japan, where an ICAT Detroit liaison was on the scene to make sure delivery was completed correctly. Meanwhile, the customer stepped back from the ocean shipment and those goods were secured elsewhere.

With each twist and turn, Saladin kept the customer fully informed and assured.

“International freight forwarding can cause some anxiety,” he said. “When that happens, part of our job is to mitigate the concerns by making adjustments to calm our clients.”

Big Picture:

It’s rewarding when a well-designed plan comes together. But conditions sometimes require revisions. The commitment to Respond & Rescue is essential to the customer service culture at ICAT Logistics Detroit.

“This was a new customer and it was important to show how we solve problems,” said Saladin. “But the process is the same for all clients: Get creative, get answers, get it accomplished.”

For Saladin and his ICAT colleagues – in Michigan and around the globe – the guiding principle of R&R carries an additional meaning: Resilience and Results.

“You size up the problem, stay with it and get it resolved,” said Saladin. “We do what we always do: We get it done.”

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