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US Ocean Update: Port congestion still high as Gulf Coast sees a rise in delays

North America’s East and West Coast ports experience effect of recent backlogs while the Gulf Coast sees a rise in congestion

For some time the US has seen fluctuating demand and congestion across its ports along the East, West and the Gulf coasts.

On the back of our latest update, please see below an overview of the current US port situation.

Following a period of record congestion across terminals at the East Coast twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in January which saw 109 vessels queuing awaiting berth, the backlog is now almost clear as we enter September with only 8 vessels queuing w/c 29th August. In the meantime, equipment challenges and uncertainty caused by potential labour strikes pushed many vessels to use ports along the East Coast such as New York and New Jersey.

With the balance of congestion shifting to East Coast ports during July and August, they began seeing higher wait times and, similar to the USWC ports, looked to implement long-dwell fees on containers to incentivise carriers to clear empty containers and ensure capacity and equipment levels remain steady. The West Coast dwell-fee never came into action due to the drop in congestion levels, whilst the East Coast 'imbalance fee' has recently been postponed. As a result of the congestion across both the East and West coasts, the Gulf of Mexico has seen an increase in activity throughout August acting as relief to the congested coastlines.

With traffic moving further down into the Gulf Coast, the port of Houston saw its TEU volume grow by 27% year on year at the start of 2022, with much higher numbers expected as more carriers switch to Gulf ports for the availability of drayage services and increased capacity. However, many of the Gulf's ports are now seeing capacity tighten with the extra volume passing through terminals as a result of the shift. Ports including Savannah, Houston and Tampa are being impacted by delays as a result of the rising container numbers.

Please see current wait times for major US ports below:


West Coast delays

  • Seattle - 2 days
  • Vancouver - 4 days
  • Oakland - 17 days
  • Los Angeles - 5 days
  • Long Beach - 1 day

East Coast delays

  • Boston - 12 days
  • New York - 3 days
  • Philadelphia - 2 days
  • Baltimore - 10 days

Gulf Coast delays

  • Charleston - 2 days
  • Savannah 12 days
  • Jacksonville - 2 days
  • Miami - 8 days
  • Tampa - 12 days
  • Houston - 12 days

Inland hub delays

  • Chicago - 8 days
  • Cleveland - 15 days
  • Memphis - 11 days

If you have any questions about your North American shipments please contact our team here.

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