Congestion Crisis!

Posted 11/20/2020

Freightwaves has called the current situation “Shipageddon," with a massive surge of import cargo hitting the USA. There are many factors playing into the current situation, but primarily a surge from Asia with the top 10 USA ports experiencing double-digit increases in cargo. Congestion in USA ports is reaching a critical stage, especially in Los Angeles/Long Beach, but other ports are also experiencing landside challenges.

Maersk steamship line issued a customer advisory on the difficult situation, stating, “Terminals are under immense pressure to quickly process heightened import volumes in order to create enough space to receive the next vessel arrival. The high yard utilization and increasing terminal dwell times have created a bottleneck for ships entering the port, resulting in significant port congestion and compromised schedule reliability."

In NY/NJ ports, terminals are congested and dwell time for cargo moving out on the rail is ramping up, with delays from 5 – 14 days. The port reports intermodal volumes up over 3% compared to last year. Terminals are working to bring in more rail cars, but rail capacity has been stretched to the max with the current volumes. Cindy Schild, spokesperson for  CSX, one of the largest rail carriers, advised, “We are aware of backlogs. CSX is running extra rail cars in and out of the port in effort to do our best to help alleviate the congestion."

On a global basis, vessels are at capacity or overbooked, and we expect this situation to continue until the end of the year. Carriers may skip ports or change schedules with little notice due to capacity issues. With sporadic strike action in Chile, Spain, and Australia, and the global surge in COVID-19, unexpected delays can arise. Some carriers have announced higher booking cancellation charges, and equipment usage charges for containers moving inland from USA ports. We expect equipment to continue to be in high demand globally, and container manufacturers are sold out until early 2021.

At WSSA, we have contracts with all carriers, and we're finding innovative solutions to accommodate challenges in the market, but we recommend you plan ahead by adding extra time into your supply chain. It is a challenging time for everyone, but working together, we will find solutions. Should you have any specific questions on port issues, turn times, or any other logistics matter, please let us know.