Single Port of Call?

Posted on: June 11, 2021

Is it time for carriers to consider targeting a single port call on the West Coast?

The Asia-US trade is hotter than hot. This has led to record vessel congestion in the Los Angeles / Long Beach port area while carriers have suspended calls in Oakland, CA over increasing vessel congestion. Furthermore, a few carriers are going to add extra loaders and two China-based vessel operators are going to initiate their first ever sailings to the USA.

It is not evident that the problem at hand is a shortage of vessels. Maersk continues to report that terminal congestion is causing a 20% reduction in capacity. It is the port congestion that needs to be addressed first.

The carriers are clearly struggling. It might be best for them to consider targeting a single port call on the West Coast to gain efficiency by reducing the number of days sitting at anchor. Does it make sense to wait at anchor for 7 – 10 days in Long Beach after rejecting Long Beach cargo at origin that could have filled the vessel? Instead the carriers are opting to also carry Oakland destined cargo which requires an additional 7 – 10 days at anchor outside of Oakland waiting for terminal access.

What if carriers replaced the Oakland cargo with the Long Beach cargo they had rejected and made a single port of call at Long Beach? They could then use a separate vessel to carry the Oakland cargo directly to the Port of Oakland. This would eliminate the wait time in Oakland and speed the initial vessel’s return to Asia by 7 to 10 days.

The advent of containerization was driven by bulk vessels getting too big. Dwell time of the large bulk vessels became the achilles heel and a shipping industry adage was coined – you only make money in shipping when the vessel is moving; not when the ship is idle. So, is big always better? Maybe not if multiple ports of discharge are required.

Think of the passenger airline business where Southwest and Alaska Airlines upended the big airlines when they brought in smaller aircraft. Has the time come and gone for ever-larger vessels requiring multiple discharge ports in order to sail full vs. smaller vessels spending less time in the origin and destination terminals? This concept would allow more rapid turns to origin to fill the vessel again.

We have read about the backlog created in the Shenzhen and Guangzhou port terminals where the Yantian International Container Terminals makes up a large part of the port complex. A recent Journal of Commerce article quoted, “John Painter, CEO and founder of Guangzhou Port America, [who] said orders from South China were being delayed because of a lack of capacity at factories, lack of raw materials, lack of equipment, and lack of space — but there was no lack of demand.

“Every order or booking now has urgency attached to it,” he told Wednesday. “The lead times continue to extend, and shippers are now challenged to tap their networks to seek relief and solutions while being creative and agile.”

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., there is a labor shortage in Oakland and a railcar shortage in Seattle-Tacoma. This has caused vessel congestion in those ports as they struggle to handle surging cargo volumes.

Is it time for carriers to consider targeting a single port call on the West Coast?

News categories

Company news

Get the latest Trade Tech news.

Product news

Stay updated about our Syrinx platform.

Industry insights

Your source for trends, tips and insights.

Related articles

Trade Tech is proud to announce a series of ICS2-ENS...

Sign up for our newsletter and stay up-to-date about the latest news and insights.

Logistic and Supply Chain Management | Trade Cash

Trade Tech Customer Survey on ICS2-ENS

Your insights will help us understand your current understanding of the ICS2-ENS filing requirement. The survey is short and should take no more than 2 minutes to complete. As a thank-you for your time, we will be sharing the results in the near future. To take the survey, please proceed below. Your participation is greatly appreciated.
Do you know what ICS2-ENS is?
Do you know when this regulation will become a requirement
How you think this regulation will impact you?
Do you know what an EORI Number is?
Do you know that you will need to have an EORI Number registered with a European Customs Agency by June 1, 2024 in order to book freight with the ocean carriers at the Master Bill Level?
Are you prepared to be compliant with ICS2-ENS filings on the House Bill (HBL) level by December 2024?
Thanks for taking our survey. Please click the Submit button below to send the results. If you would like to be contacted by one of our team please add your name and email address and then click submit.