Maersk shifting Vancouver calls due to congestion

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by Emily Atkins

Delays and congestion have promoted Maersk to alert customers to changes in their scheduled calls at the Port of Vancouver.

In a note to customers, the liner company said West Coast terminals have experienced berthing delays in recent weeks due to inland network congestion, particularly in Toronto and Montreal. As these inland terminals became congested, the supply of rail cars to the terminals were restricted/stopped.

This situation has had a detrimental impact on the terminals, which are not designed for storing containers. Despite the projected expansions in both Vancouver and Prince Rupert, the terminal throughput hasn’t increased. Maersk reported that Centerm is at 108 percent capacity, while the yard at Prince Rupert is at 110 percent.

Maersk’s North American port status report as of August 11, 2022.

This had led to longer than usual vessel wait time for the company’s transpacific services (TP1 and TP9), with 75 days delay, as well as additional holdups for the rail traffic due to lack of space to discharge containers at Centerm.

Maersk also noted that Centerm has moved to a single berth, which is increasing the wait times to 17 days. The second berth is not expected to re-open until mid-September.

Shifting sailings on the fly

To work around the congestion, Maersk informed customers it is aligning its TP9 sailings from Asia to match the cadence at Centerm. This means every TP9 vessel in the queue is being evaluated for possible changes to the rotation. This includes calling at Seattle first in the rotation.

It also means sending TP9 ships to Prince Rupert for discharge of all Vancouver rail cargo. These vessels include Tyndall 219N, Maersk Singapore 229N, Anna Maersk 226N and Maersk Laberinto 220N.

Maersk is also considering other options such as transshipping via Seattle and using other terminals in Vancouver, including Delta Port and Fraser Surrey Docks.

US ports

Meanwhile Descartes reported that July was the seventh consecutive month this year of record U.S. ocean container import volume, when compared to July 2021. July 2022 volumes increased over June 2022 totals, remaining above the level that has caused port congestion and delays for the last 17 months.

The Port of Savannah had the longest wait times, with an average wait time of nearly 15 days.

July TEU volumes increased three percent from July 2021 and were up 15 percent from pre-pandemic July 2019.

U.S. container import volumes in July 2022 were up by two percent compared to July 2021.

The Port of LA was the busiest port in July – netting out at just upwards of 468,000 TEUs, up close to 24,000 TEUs compared with June; New York/New Jersey moved from the first spot last month to the second busiest in July, and Long Beach came in third again, but imports dropped considerably by about 24,000 TEUs.