There is still more than $40 billion worth of container ships waiting to unload in the waters surrounding North American ports. But the change is that the center of the congestion has shifted to the eastern United States, freight forwarding with about 64% of waiting ships concentrated in the eastern United States and the Gulf of Mexico, while only 36% of ships waiting in the western United States.
Anchorages at ports along the eastern U.S. and Gulf Coast continue to be crowded with container ships waiting to unload, and there are now far more container ships lined up at those ports than in the western U.S. A total of 125 container ships were waiting to berth outside North American ports as of Friday, according to an analysis of ship-tracking data from MarineTraffic and queuing in California. That's down 16 percent from the 150 waiting ships in January at the peak of congestion in the Western Americas, but up 36 percent from 92 ships a month earlier.
Vessels lining up near the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach have grabbed headlines for the past year, but the epicenter of the current congestion has shifted: As of Friday, only 36% of vessels were waiting to berth outside the U.S. port, compared with 64% of ships gather in ports along the eastern U.S. and Gulf Coast, with the Port of Savannah, Georgia, the largest port in North America
▲A container ship waiting for a berth in Savannah
With a combined capacity of 1,037,164 TEUs of container ships waiting outside U.S. and British Columbia ports last Friday, what is the value of all that containerized cargo? Assuming a 90% ship loading rate and an average value of $43,899 per imported TEU (average value of imported goods in Los Angeles in 2020, which is likely to be conservative given inflation), then these are out-of-port The total value of cargo awaiting berthing and unloading is estimated at more than $40 billion.
According to Project44, a Chicago-based supply chain visibility platform that tracks monthly container volumes arriving in the U.S. West and U.S. East, the statistical report found that the June capacity to the U.S. East increased by 83% year-on-year, an increase compared to June 2020 177%. Capacity in the U.S. East is currently on par with the U.S. West, which is down nearly 40% from its January peak. Project44 attributed the shift to importers' concerns about potential disruptions to labor talks at the U.S.-West port.
▲Ship queues in the US East and Gulf Coast
As of Friday, MarineTraffic data showed that 36 container ships were waiting for a berth at the Port of Savannah off Tybee Island, Georgia. The total capacity of these vessels is 343,085 TEU (average capacity: 9,350 TEU).
FreightWaves' SONAR Booking Index shows Savannah's import volume growth was significantly higher than the national average compared to January 2019.
▲The booking volume index is according to the scheduled departure date. Blue Line: Cargo bound for Savannah, Green Line; Cargo bound for all U.S. ports
According to updated data from Hapag-Lloyd, container ships are currently waiting 10-12 days for a berth at the Port of Savannah. Savannah's yard utilization is 89 percent.
The port with the second-largest number of ships in the US East is New York-New Jersey. As of last Friday, 20 vessels were waiting for berths with a total capacity of 180,908 TEU (average capacity: 9,045 TEU). Hapag-Lloyd said the wait time for a berth at the Port of New York-New Jersey "depends on the situation at the terminal and is currently more than 20 days." It added that the yard utilization rate at Maher Terminal was 92%, GCT Bayonne Terminal 75%, and APM Terminal 72%.
On the Gulf Coast, there are 20 vessels waiting near Houston with a combined capacity of 121,196 TEU (average capacity: 6,060 TEU). According to Hapag-Lloyd, Houston's Barbours Cut is at 86 percent utilization, and "due to longer dwell times, the terminal continues to face a shortage of chassis equipment."
▲ Ship queues at the ports of Houston (left) and New York/New Jersey (right) as of last Friday
There are 24 container ships waiting for berths in Los Angeles-Long Beach with a total capacity of 208,903 TEU (average capacity: 8,704 TEU), according to the Southern California Shipping Exchange's 7 a.m. ship queuing data on Friday.
The backlog is down sharply from a high of 109 vessels on Jan. 9 but remains the second-most lined port in North America. Ship counts in Los Angeles and Long Beach have hovered around current levels since the end of May and are still up slightly year-over-year.
▲Based on data from the Southern California Ocean Exchange
At other ports on the West Coast, 10 ships were waiting for berths in Oakland, according to data from the Bay Area Maritime Exchange at 7 a.m. Friday. The total capacity of these vessels is 79,712 TEU (average capacity: 7,971 TEU).
In addition, there are eight ships waiting for a berth in Vancouver, British Columbia, and another three ships waiting for a berth near Seattle-Tacoma.
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