New York, Savannah bearing brunt of US East Coast congestion

Aerial shot of a container yard in the Port of Savannah in Georgia on a clear evening in Fall. This shot was taken during the global supply chain crisis, and the terminal is visibly at capacity. 

Authorization was obtained from the FAA for this operation in restricted airspace.

Several major container ports on the US East Coast are experiencing elevated levels of congestion, but a few remain relatively free flowing and uncongested, according to new data from VesselsValue.

Vivek Srivastava, Senior Trade Analyst at VesselsValue, wrote that container lines are repositioning services away from the US West Coast, where waiting times hit once in a generation levels over the global COVID-19 pandemic – increasing the strain on East Coast logistics.

Of the top ten US East Coast Container terminals, writes Srivastava, four currently exhibit long waiting times.

The four are are New York and Elizabeth APM Terminals – both part of the Port of New York – and Garden City and Savannah Terminal (both Port of Savannah).

Average waiting times at the Port of New York have ranged between 20 and 50 hours for most of this year. This is far higher than last year’s levels, which rarely exceeded 20 hours, and the three average, which rarely exceeded 10 hours.

Six of the top ten continue to function normally, however, and exhibit relatively short waiting times.

These are Norfolk International and Virginia International Gateway Terminals, both at the Port of Norfolk, Maher and Port Newark Terminals (both Port of New York), Packer Avenue Terminal (Port of Philadelphia) and Wando Welch Terminal (Port of Charleston).

Average waiting times for containerships at Norfolk have rarely exceeded 6 hours in recent history and are currently almost nothing.

The four congested terminals are among the busiest on the US East Coast and handle bigger ships, including the biggest type, Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs).

However, of the six less congested terminals, Virginia International Gateway and Wando Welch have also handled ULCVs this year, so easier and faster transit for the biggest ships is still possible.

“Shippers and Lines that have any flexibility in their schedules should consider alternative routes into key markets, such as the US East Coast,” Srivastava wrote.

VesselsValue’s new congestion feature launches this Autumn.

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