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US Ocean Insight: Port Congestion

With demand for US imports from Asia continuing to rise to record levels, and projected to increase by 22.1 percent in the half of 2021 compared to the same period last year, concerns over the unyielding congestion at Southern California ports have resulted in carriers cancelling sailings and considering moving operations to smaller ports.

The port of LA currently has 30+ vessels waiting for berth positions for over a week with cargo stuck in limbo as ships wait for the backlog to be cleared.

The backups are the result of a big restocking effort that is underway while dockside terminals cope with a coronavirus outbreak that has slowed freight handling. The congestion issues have begun to spread along other ports across the West Coast.

As a result, we’re seeing the following impact on US supply chains:

  • Vessel schedules fluctuating significantly and advanced vessel cut-off without prior notice, which can result in containers incurring quay rent if cut off moved and already returned to port
  • Terminals requesting dual transactions only, meaning to bring a container (either returning an empty or dropping an export load) and picking up a container (either an import or an empty for export load) in one trip, under one terminal booking slot. As a result, truckers are now having to wait to have matching loads, from the same port terminal in order to make a booking to collect/deliver. Whilst the trucker is waiting, costs can be incurred for chassis rental and container rent which is directly affecting your cost per shipment.
  • Shortage of drivers to cover volume
  • Additional charges being incurred on most containers moving in/out of the port
  • Extensive lines at terminals on appointment only with limited time windows to deliver containers for cut-off
  • Rail delays
  • Vessels omitting ports
Please be assured that we are doing our best to minimise the impact, however the vessel schedule uncertainty is making planning increasingly more difficult.

In turn, the US port congestion is impacting the restitution of empty containers back to Asia, where acute equipment and trucker shortages due to Chinese New Year holidays and related COVID-19 regulations are causing further delays. It is expected for congestion and delays to continue to some extent into Q2 of 2021.

Please get in touch with your Woodland representative to discuss alternative routing or transport options to suit your supply chain..

Thank you for your continued support and cooperation throughout.

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