41 container ships waiting to dock at the port of Los Angeles / Long Beach, freight rates continue to increase

06/09/2021

The number of ships moored in San Pedro Bay waiting to dock at the port of Los Angeles (LA) and the port of Long Beach (LB) has surpassed the previous February high of 40, now the number is 41, according to Project44.

The growing number of ships waiting at southern California ports is attributed to shippers buying early to avoid peak season congestion at the end of the year.

“Industry experts attribute the latest surge to proactive shippers, who are bolstering their inventories in preparation for the holiday season. However, processing the influx of containers across west coast ports is running up against capacity issues facing North American rail and road carriers, as inland congestions tacks on additional delays,” said Project44.

In addition, it is good news that average weekly stays at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach fell by nearly three days last week indicating a good recovery to handle this volume of cargo.

However, the efforts of ports in faster container clearance may not be enough. “While port infrastructure and personnel are performing admirably under the circumstances, the capacity/volume mismatch between maritime ports and overland transport could get worse in the weeks and months ahead, setting the stage for another breaking point in supply chains,” the analyst warned.

As congestion continues to increase in US West Coast ports combined with incidents such as the two-week closure of the Meishan Island International Container Terminal (MSICT) at the port of Ningbo-Zhoushan due to a case of Covid-19 infection, container freight rates have continued to increase from previous record levels.

Drewry reported that its composite World Container Index rose 2.1% or $204 from last week to $9,817.72 per 40-foot container (FEU), 351% higher than the previous week same week of 2020 and the 19th consecutive week of gains.

For freight rates from Shanghai to Los Angeles, last week increased 4%, or $393, to $11,362/FEU. Freight rates from Shanghai to Rotterdam increased by $89 to $13,787/FEU.

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