Time spent by container ships waiting for berths has doubled in two years


Port delays and waits have doubled for container ships in the mast two years (Port of Los Angeles file photo)

Posted on July 16, 2021 at 3:41 PM by

The maritime executive

Port congestion and the resulting declining performance of cruise ship schedules has been a lingering story in 2021 as global supply chains scrambled to absorb increased trade after the first wave of the pandemic. Southern California ports saw record numbers of ships waiting for a terminal earlier this year, and disruptions to the Suez Canal and later the Chinese port of Yantian also caused backlogs.

Market research firm IHS Markit analyzed the time container ships spend waiting for berths, reporting that it has more than doubled since 2019. They attributed the increase in port delays to the increased demand, equipment shortages and other effects of the pandemic, claiming they believe these problems. persist as the recovery in world trade becomes more sustained and broader.

According to IHS Markit port performance data, North America experienced the greatest deterioration, with ships spending an average of 33 hours at anchor in May 2021, compared to just eight hours on average in May 2019. While the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles were the most visible. along with their delays, the data indicates that container ships were experiencing increased waiting times at many of the major seaports.

The data also shows that congestion issues have spread across the global supply chain, affecting many seaports. For northern European ports, IHS Markit reports that the average wait has increased to 30 hours in May 2021 from 13 hours in 2019, while in East Asian ports the wait time is passed at 3 p.m. versus 10 a.m. two years earlier.

Congestion and bottlenecks have not only slowed down the ability of ships to reach ports, but in many cases have also prolonged the time spent in port. Container ships often had to wait at anchorages or slow down steam to ports due to the lack of berths. IHS Markit says the average number of hours container ships spent at port in May 2021 drops to 92 hours for North America and, although shorter, still requires 69 hours on average at ports in Europe North and 40 hours on average in East Asia.

“The pandemic and the increase in global trade have resulted in a collapse of the integrity of the global ship calendar,” said Turloch Mooney, associate director, Maritime and Commerce at IHS Markit. “A much larger percentage of ships arrive at their destination well on schedule, making it very difficult for ports to plan cargo operations and forcing ships to wait long periods of time before they can be loaded or unloaded. Many ports are struggling to maintain an efficient turnaround schedule, adding pressure and delays on an already stretched global supply chain. “

Some ports have been particularly affected by the increase in the number of ships and the volume, causing congestion and backlogs. IHS Markit points out that in Los Angles, container ships spent an average of 215 hours in port in May 2021, including 89 hours at anchor. The COVID-19 outbreak in southern China in May also resulted in a significant deterioration of 22 to 62 hours of wear between March and May 2021 at Yantian Port.

Waiting time is calculated as the average time that ships spend at anchor, while port hours include waiting time, arrival time and completion of loading and unloading of cargo. .

As the situation has stabilized in many ports and some, like Los Angeles, have been able to drastically reduce their backlogs, port officials and carriers believe this is the start of a long-term cycle that will continue to grow. see high volumes of containers in the future.

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