Freight News, Sea

Jump in moves per visit causes port congestion

[ September 14, 2021   //   ]

The average number of containers requiring loading and unloading per ship call at major ports has jumped during the pandemic, causing further delay and congestion says analysts IHS Markit. According to its latest Port Performance container call volumes are up between 10% and 70% compared with 2019 at major US, Northern European and Asian ports. The average vessel now requires more than 3,000 container moves per single call.

At the Port of Long Beach in the US, average call sizes are now more than 70% higher than before the pandemic with terminals dealing with an average of more than 7,000 container moves per call on large ocean-going vesselsHowever,  Felixstowe and Antwerp saw call sizes increase by only 18% and 14%, respectively.

Associate director, maritime and trade, Turloch Mooney said:  “The severe operational strain is caused by the surge in cargo volumes coming in much more concentrated loads. This spike in demand is placing heavy stress on ocean and landside operations, increasing yard congestion and cargo dwell times, with knock-on effects on equipment repositioning and intermodal links further fuelling the problem and resulting in sustained congestion at key global gateways.”

Asian ports can load or unload a container more than twice as fast as their North American counterparts, taking on average 27 seconds compared to 76 seconds on large call sizes. The Northern European ports take an average of 46 seconds, according to IHS Markit’s Port Performance Data.

Turloch Mooney added: “The extent of the congestion has been a shock to many both inside and outside the industry and has prompted investigations into how certain container ports have become overwhelmed, and what can be done to improve resilience for the future.”