Maersk warns of more delays due to port congestion

by Emily Atkins

Shipping line Maersk has warned customers of continuing delays in a notice published January 11.

“Unfortunately, 2022 has not started off as we had hoped. The pandemic is still going strong and unfortunately, we are seeing new outbreaks impacting our ability to move your cargo. General sickness remains high as key ports in key regions are seeing new Covid-19 peaks,” the shipping line said.

“We recognize that this is causing delays to our customers’ supply-chains and mitigating those disruptions is of the utmost importance to us. The situation is particularly challenging at several Hub Ports and Gateway terminals.”

For North American shippers expecting inbound containers, Maersk provided a chart showing the current delays at its West Coast terminals. Vancouver and Prince Rupert are both experiencing high congestion, with terminals reported as over capacity. Maersk reported vessels seeking a berth at Vancouver are waiting on average 14 days, while those inbound to Prince Rupert face a 10-day wait.

At California’s Long Beach vessel waiting times are 38 to 45 days, while at Los Angeles the wait is zero to 28 days.

Maersk shared this data in its January 11, 2022 customer update.

The shipping line also highlighted areas where fluidity is returning. It noted that wait times at the Port of Antwerp, the Netherlands, dropped from up to 10 days in the first week of January down to two days this week.

Chinese outbreak

In China, the city of Beilun is also experiencing a Covid-19 outbreak. Maersk reports that of the five container terminals in the port of Ningbo, three are located near the epidemic area but are so far operating with no positive cases reported. Vessel calls and departures are so far running as normal, as well as loading and discharge activities.

“After some days with revised operations, container gate-in and gate-out activities are now also back to normal with a combined yard density of around 75 percent,” the shipping line said. However, trucking services in Jinhua Yongkang, the mid-high-risk area of Beilun and the area outside the Zhejiang province are suspended under the strict regulations imposed by China’s epidemic prevention policy.

“As the situation evolves every day, we are working closely with all respective port authorities and coordinating with all involved parts in the local supply chain to help alleviate the situation,” the bulletin promised. “That could include slowing down the sea transit for minimal queuing, opening substitute container depots or moving more cargo via alternative modes.”

“We regret the impact this has on your global supply chains and we do foresee the strain to continue for some time still. Ongoing contingency plans will always be made with the objective of minimizing supply chain delays and we ask that you bear with us while we manage the overall situation as best as we can.”