AmericasContainersPorts and Logistics

Congestion on both coasts of North America

Congestion at ports on both sides of North America remains a severe issue, though the ship queues do look to be easing this week.

According to a client update from German liner Hapag-Lloyd yesterday there are currently 35 ships at anchor waiting to berth at the US’s top two ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach due to the spike in import volumes and lack of dockside labour thanks to a Covid outbreak. This figure is down by two ships from January 29. Fortunately California has started an urgent vaccination programme for its hard-hit dockworkers.

Further north, there were 10 ships waiting to dock at Oakland as of last Friday, one less than Hapag-Lloyd counted on January 29.

Over in New York berth congestion has slightly decreased with vessels waiting upwards of 1-2 days for a berth at various terminals. Main factors causing the congestion are weather related delays. As with many other North American ports, Hapag-Lloyd cited increased dwell times for import volumes and large inventories of empty containers continuing to impact operations at all New York terminals.

The one port really under greater pressure this month appears to be Savannah where Hapag-Lloyd registered 16 ships at anchor as of last Friday, a figure up by six from a fortnight earlier. Mapping data taken from MarineTraffic today (see below) shows the congestion continuing to be an issue at Savannah. The green circles in the map below are ships at anchor.

In Canada, the congestion at Vancouver is expected to last well into Q2, Hapag-Lloyd predicted. Dwell times at Halifax was recorded as 1.9 days, Montreal 3.2 days, Vancouver 3 days and a very lengthy 9.8 days at Prince Rupert.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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