U.S. Congestion and infrastructure issues
Current shipping conditions
In early 2021, the West Coast was heavily congested due to increased import demand. Though this is still very much the case for Oakland, Long Beach and Los Angeles. There is now a similar development in the Gulf Coast and Southeast ports, as well. Georgia, Charleston, Norfolk, and Houston were affected with congestion during the height of the pandemic, but for a time they were a safer bet for shippers to avoid the delays found on the West Coast. As more vessels plan to avoid the West Coast, these alternate ports are increasingly experiencing the issues brought on by the global shipping crisis.
West Coast ports continue to have massive congestion
Currently there are almost 90 ships either docked or waiting to dock in LA alone and 400,000 containers sitting on the shorelines. This congestion has caused major delays and resulted in increased rates. The congestion issue is a result of lack of available truckers, congestion at rail hubs, limited chassis, and lack of storage space at warehouses.
Southeast U.S. becoming a new hot spot
Considering the West Coast is dealing with an overwhelming backlog it would appear routing to less busy ports would make sense. However, the U.S. demand for imported goods exceeds the capabilities of the logistics structure currently in place. With an increasing number of vessels routing to the Southeast ports (Savannah, Charleston, and Norfolk), they too are now experiencing the same issues as the West Coast. Compared to 2020, these ports have doubled their dwell times. It is not uncommon for containers to wait more than 30 days until an opportunity becomes available for their removal. These ports are not large enough to handle the massive inflow in containers.
With no space to store containers, vessels are stuck waiting to unload with limited labor, creating massive delays and extreme congestion at every stage.
Houston is becoming more congested
As more possible solutions are sought more U.S. ports are affected by the congestion. Houston, which recently suffered some damage from Hurricane Nicholas, is now dealing with the same issues seen at other excessively congested ports. Typically, the Gulf Coast has been a good alternative option for shippers trying to avoid the West Coast, but recent volume increases have created new problems. Houston is now also experiencing extended dwell time and significantly increased delays for delivery.
Many times, containers are put on a rail to be delivered more inland, or to be moved to a new staging area. With the dramatic increase in demand, rail hubs are struggling to maintain. Significant improvement is needed to meet the increased volume demands. Heavy equipment and cranes are greatly needed but are slowly being produced.
Much like the rails, truckers play an essential role in removing containers from ports. Unfortunately, the lack of truckers is one the worst in the transportation industry. Rates are increase rapidly, and drivers are limited. Some of the congested ports have truckers booked up to 3 months in advance. If priority service, locating an available trucker is almost impossible and rates will most certainly be at a premium.
See below for the most up-to-date information on delays:
U.S. East Coast major concerns
• NY / NJ: Expect extreme delays
• Savannah: 8 – 11 days dwell time
• Charleston: 5 – 6 days dwell time
• Miami: 5 – 7 days dwell time with heavy CFS backlog
U.S West Coast major concerns
• LA / Long Beach: 12 – 16 days dwell time
• Seattle: 10 – 12 days dwell time
• Oakland: 4 – 6 days dwell time
U.S Gulf Coast major concerns
• New Orleans: 24 hours dwell time
• Houston: 1 – 2 days dwell time
Rail Terminal major concerns:
Many major rails are experiencing severe congestion which is backing up terminals leading to limited gate capacity,
rail car shortages, and delays.
• Philadelphia: equipment shortages and delays in picks up and deliveries are to be expected
• Charleston: equipment shortages and delays in picks up and deliveries are to be expected
• Chicago: server congestion is to be expected
• BNSF & UP/LAX/LGB: Increased delay time expected; limited gate capacity and reservations available
The following locations are experiencing continued chassis shortage impacting timelines for both import and export cargo:
• LAX/Long Beach: increased delay time expected, limited chassis
• NY: increased delay time expected, limited chassis
• Philadelphia: increased delay time expected, limited chassis
• Columbus: increased delay time expected, limited chassis
• Atlanta: increased delay time expected, limited chassis
• Nashville: increased delay time expected, limited chassis
• Louisville: increased delay time expected, limited chassis
Should you have any questions, please contact your Santa Fe representative.