Export Container Dwell Times Have Been Increased Due To Berthing Delays

When it comes to international shipping, everything is dependent on one other. If trucker availability is low, containers sit at the port. If containers sit at the port, the port gets congested, and ships can’t be unloaded. If ships can’t be unloaded, they line up at the shores. So on and so forth. One problem leads to a bottleneck that creates traffic for the entire industry. And currently, the industry is experiencing serious issues as a result of export berthing problems.

Southern California Ports: Berthing Delay

Berthing delays are the time between when a ship arrives at anchorage and when it can be berthed to resume cargo operations. When there are berthing delays, a ship is forced to wait at anchorage until it is its turn to pull in and unload.

Most recent data is showing that Southern California ports are experiencing massive berthing delays as a result of congestion at the ports. Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are averaging 11-12 days for export containers to be loaded onto a vessel. These time frames are nearly double the amount of time it’s taking to unload import containers. The delays are being attributed to issues getting containers off the docks and onto the container ships.

Root of the Problems

Insights gleaned from analysis of the issue show that the increased delays are occurring with ships that are berthing days past their original scheduled berthing time slots. Essentially, containers are arriving at the port and preparing to be loaded on time. However, no ships are ready to take them as they wait at anchorage offshore due to delays from the sheer volume of ships arriving at the Southern California ports.

Shippers and carriers are doing everything correctly according to regular protocols. Carriers are advising their customers to deliver export containers based on the estimated time of arrival for the ships that are supposed to be loaded. But when the berthing for those ships is massively delayed, you will naturally have a huge pileup of export containers at the ports.

Recent reports show that 37 containers are waiting at anchorage for berthing, and it is these massive queues of ships that are creating the backlog of export containers at the port. However, this is not even an accurate representation of the drastic backlog of ships awaiting unloading. Southern California made a rule that a specific number of ships are allowed to anchor just off the shore in order to reduce massive congestion, air pollution, and safety issues for arriving vessels. As a result, there are dozens of ships waiting offshore, further out in the Pacific. Even loaded ships are waiting at their origins to avoid the congestion seen in Southern California.

Back in early November, export container dwell times were around four to six days. They have nearly doubled since. Until Southern Californian ports are able to keep containers moving in and out of the port efficiently, ships will continue to stack up offshore and create berthing delays for all cargo.

Please reach to our team at InterlogUSA for more information or questions you have regarding your shipping situation.


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