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Surge In Container Ships Needing To Anchor At Port Waiting For Berths

The time container ships spend waiting on anchor for berths more than doubled since 2019, according to IHS Markit’s Port Performance Data. North America saw the biggest deterioration with vessels spending on average 33 hours on anchor in May 2021 vs an average of just 8 hours in May 2019.

For Northern European ports the average wait jumped to 30 hours in May vs 13 hours in 2019, while the wait at East Asian ports increased to 15 hours from 10 hours two years earlier. The extra wait for a berth increased the average hours container ships spent in port in May 2021 to 92 hours for North America; 40 hours for East Asia and 69 hours in Northern Europe.

Some ports have been especially hard hit with Los Angles seeing container ships spend an average 215 hours in port in May, of which 89 hours was at anchor. The South Chinese port of Yantian saw a significant deterioration from 22 to 62 port hours from March to May 2021as it was hit with pandemic related bottlenecks.

The port delays are mostly attributed to surging demand, equipment shortages and other effects of the pandemic and are persisting as the global trade recovery is becoming more sustained and broader.

“The pandemic and surge in global trade has resulted in a collapse in global vessel schedule integrity. A much larger percentage of ships are arriving at their destinations well outside of schedule, making it very challenging for ports to plan cargo operations and resulting in vessels having to wait for long periods before they can be loaded or unloaded. Many ports are struggling to maintain an efficient turnaround schedule putting further pressure and delays on an already stretched global supply chain,” said Turloch Mooney, Associate Director, Maritime and Trade at IHS Markit

The waiting time is calculated as the average amount of time ships spend at anchor, whereas ‘port hours’ includes waiting time, steam-in time and completion of cargo loading and unloading.

IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO) is a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions for the major industries and markets that drive economies worldwide. The company delivers next-generation information, analytics and solutions to customers in business, finance and government, improving their operational efficiency and providing deep insights that lead to well-informed, confident decisions. IHS Markit has more than 50,000 business and government customers, including 80 percent of the Fortune Global 500 and the world’s leading financial institutions. Headquartered in London, IHS Markit is committed to sustainable, profitable growth.
Source: IHS Markit

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