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European Ocean Port Update

A combination of lingering Russian cargo and an influx of Chinese exports are expected to raise congestion levels and increase pressure across European ports ahead of the peak season.

Update 13th June

Following the breakdown of negotiations, which took place on 10th June, Northern Europe's third largest container port is set for another round of industrial action. The strikes are set to take place at the port of Hamburg following the cancellation of the latest round of talks, with workers unsatisfied at "inadequate" pay revisions.

German port strikes are set to only add to the mounting pressure on Europe's sea ports, with a backlog of delayed vessels expected at the port in coming weeks. With other European ports already heavily congested, there will be little to no relief for Hamburg-bound ships if strikes do take place.


Original update - 10th June

As the Shanghai lockdowns come to an end, a wave of exports is expected with production once again ramping up, however, the combination of increased volumes of feeder vessels and shipping containers descending on the continent in addition to the forthcoming peak season is only likely to compound the current congestion and capacity challenges seen across Northern European ports.
A third of scheduled sailings were blanked during the lockdowns in Shanghai, resulting in European ports having been impacted significantly with a sharp rise in container dwell times and a lack of empty container collections.


Rising dwell times for transhipments and import cargo is piling pressure on the Rotterdam World Gateway. With Russian cargo still in limbo, yard density has deteriorated to 95%, as the RWG struggles to move empty containers from the quay.


Antwerp is seeing continued high yard utilisation with containers at 90% and reefer capacity hitting 100% in recent days, resulting in the halting of barge operations until June 30th. Productivity at the port is low, causing severe congestion for berthing vessels. Carriers have reported minimum delays of 4-5 days, meaning that scheduled sailings are being missed and delivery times are often inaccurate.

Germany dock strikes

On Thursday, 9th June German dock workers took strike action amidst ongoing discussions between the German United Services Union and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies. 1,000 dock workers at Germany’s second largest dock, Bremerhaven, took union action that saw no vessels loaded or unloaded during the late shift on the day. Workers also walked out from ports across Bremen, Wilhelmshaven and Emden.
The walk-outs were timed ahead of the third round of negotiations in Hamburg on Friday, 10th June, with the aim of a €1.20ph wage increase in addition to inflation compensation.

All services have now resumed as normal.


Hamburg’s terminals are seeing high yard utilisation of around 90%. A combination of decreased container pick-ups and a higher volume of import vessels means that storage at the port is overflowing with warehousing availability on and off port very tight. The imbalance of import and export isn’t being helped by missed sailings which are leaving empty containers stranded on the quay unable to be collected.


With schedules slipping at European ports, more services have been added by shipping lines in an attempt to recover a standard shipping schedule, however, it is taking around 30% longer than usual for Rotterdam to Dublin services, not taking into account any prior delays. This is causing long delays to transhipment sailings via the European hubs especially when shipping from regions such as Asia which are seeing delays at origin as well.

Dublin Port itself saw increased traffic of 13.7% YoY for the first quarter of 2022, at 9 million gross tonnes. Meanwhile, a lack of labour at the Port of Dublin is causing delays in unloading of around 3-4 days on imports.


Cork’s Container Terminal has recently opened in Ringaskiddy. Teething issues are expected and all drivers must complete a compulsory induction in addition to using the onsite Vehicle Booking System (VBS) to gain entry to the port.


If you would like more information regarding your supply chains, contact the team here.

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