Congestion US Ports

As we all know, Covid has an increasing influence on shipping. There is more and more chaos in equipment availability, space availability and reliability of schedules are not what they used to be. Looking at the US market of logistics we see that the cargo flow is not what it was, caused by a high demand for truckers, warehouse workers, longshoremen. For example, California has between 30,000 and 60,000 daily new Covid cases (early January).  The majority of people working for shipping lines and freight forwarders work at home. They don’t have the right tools they need to perform at the service level we were used to.


We see that US ports are running at a capacity of 90% or even more. The ports but also the rail depots are overwhelmed with containers and almost no space is left. This means that it is hard to store containers for export and import containers that need to discharge. This mass congestion results in longer processing times, especially for the drivers. We already noticed that truckers are starting to charge extra because of this extra waiting time at the ports & railyards. Extreme situations are also there, some truckers are not accepting containers anymore for the worst area’s (NY & LA are the worst). Which brings capacity even more down.

Giving you a short wake up call to make you aware of how bad it is, here are the biggest issues:

  • There are constantly more than 40 vessels at anchor waiting for berth (LA area), most of the ports are dealing with this situation but LA/LB port area is the worst
  • Rail operations in LA/LB port area can have a delay of 10 to 18 days
  • Also in NY port area, we see more and more that vessels need to wait for berth (a 5-day delay is what you have to keep in mind)
  • Crewmembers are being tested for Covid prior to bringing their vessel to the dock, this causes delay as well
  • Rail operations in SC/VA/MO/IL/TN/IA/MI all facing a delay of 7 to 9 days
  • Chassis availability is getting worse (containers cannot be unloaded fast enough)
  • Port cutoffs and earliest receiving dates are not reliable and cause issues on drayage arrangements already made

In general, all port terminals are expected to remain congested till at least the end of February.

Given by carriers

It is understandable that an import delay on a specific vessel will also cause an export delay and so on and so on…We notice that shipments are rolled to a different vessel or in extreme cases vessels are being canceled. Together with a lack of communication, it is not always easy to find out the whereabouts of a specific container or to verify what happened exactly and why. Most of this is not in our hands but we do work hard to still give you the best service and prices possible. Our experienced team is working hard on getting your cargo on the right spot and we can assure you your cargo is being taken care of.

Should you have any specific questions on the US trade please contact Elwin van Huizen via