The Port of New York and New Jersey is facing a backlog of some 10 to 12 container ships, an unusual occurrence that has been attributed to Covid, combined with December holiday time off for workers, an increase in charter vessels requiring berth space and a major snowstorm last week.
“We have seen a spike in the number of labor going out into quarantine,” said port authority director Sam Ruda. Jim McNamara, a spokesman for the International Longshoremen’s Association, said that the 350 or so members off each day because of Covid are being somewhat offset, however, by the availability of other workers from cruiseship terminals.
At the same time that omicron is taking its toll, the port is continuing to tackle growth that saw its cargo volume increase by more than 25% between November 2019 and November 2021. “We’ve essentially had five years of cargo growth in the space of 18, 20 months or so,” said Ruda.
The outcome of this combination of factors was an average wait time at anchor for containerships of 4.75 days in the last week of 2021, compared with an average of 1.6 days for the full year.