Port of Seattle becomes the latest casualty of container congestion

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Port of Seattle becomes the latest casualty of container congestion

Shipping companies including Maersk and MSC are dropping Seattle from the schedule of some of their services from this week, as the port congestion present further down the West Coast works it way up north.

MSC said the decision was “due to the increased waiting time for vessel berthing”, which it said was “impacting schedule reliability and causing delays to shipments”, The Load Star reports.

However, the carriers said the omission was “temporary”.

In its most recent North America operational update, Hapag-Lloyd reported that, as at 15 October, there were 11 ships at anchor in Puget Sound awaiting a berth at Seattle terminals.

“Berthing delays in Seattle are up to two weeks at this time, due to heavy volumes,” said the line, adding that the terminals were operating at 90% utilisation.

Hapag-Lloyd’s update highlights the extent of the increasing port congestion blighting both west and east coast ports of North America, which is tying up a considerable percentage of carrier capacity.

Speaking after the announcement of a move to 24-hour working at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, John Wolfe, CEO of the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWA), which oversees the container business of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, said it was looking at expanding gate hours at terminals – “but that alone is not going to fix this problem”.

Washington Trucking Association VP Eric Wright attributed much of the landside congestion to the lack of availability of chassis to pick up import boxes.

He told the Seattle Times: “When trucks drop off containers on chassis at warehouses, there are often delays in unloading the containers and freeing-up those chassis to return to the port for another round of pick-ups."

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