As the shipping year continues, so do the struggles the freight industry has been dealing with since early last year. Here’s a quick update of April on the state of freight as it stands today.
We continue to experience container shortages in China. Forwarders are scrambling to secure containers before they are scooped up by other forwarding companies. This is leading to rolling schedules which we expect to continue in the coming months.
US Port Delays
The US west coast is still struggling with crippling delays as containers build and Longshoremen scramble to process the overload. Until vaccinations are the norm, we can expect to see continued delays at both ocean ports and rail yards. If you have goods arriving on the west coast, plan for delays. It can take up to 4 weeks for some containers to be discharged from the ocean terminal only to find the train queue is also backed up for weeks. Here at GPI, we’ve seen delays of up to 8 weeks after the container has arrived at port. The east coast is having a better time of it, but we’re still seeing 1-to-2-week delays there.
Disaster in the Suez Canal
The story of last month was the grounding of the container ship EVER GIVEN in the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal is the shortest route for container ships from Europe to Asia. It is a major maritime throughway and is utilized by about 50 to 80 container ships a day, cutting transit time in half for goods destined for the UK. It also serves a significant volume of vessels destined for the East Coast.
On March 23, the container vessel EVER GIVEN was traveling through the canal when it was hit by strong winds and became grounded in the sandbank effectively blocking the canal traffic. Digging a ship this large out of the Egyptian sand was no small feat. Even with multiple tugboats and heavy machinery working on the vessel for several days, little leeway was made to unwedge the behemoth. The container ship was finally freed on March 29 with the help of the tides, but in just those 7 days, a backup of over 200 container ships and thousands of containers has occurred. Ships are now being sent through the canal in convoys and It will now take over a week to get the backed-up vessels through the canal. Ramifications of the blockage will be seen in the weeks to come when the convoys begin to arrive at their UK and East Coast ports. We can expect to see delays at destination ports when the vessels begin to arrive, in mass, behind their planned schedules.
Despite all the delays and shortages, products of all types continue to stream out of China and the supply chain remains desperately slow but intact. We continue to remain hopeful that we will begin to see the return of some normality both on the ocean and at the rail and it will likely be just in time for the holiday rush.
If you have any questions regarding your specific freight issues, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help.