Singapore port battles ‘vessel bunching’ effect

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MPA handles 13 million TEU in Q1 2024

The Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has seen considerable increases in container volumes and ‘bunching’ of container vessel arrivals in recent months.

The diversion of vessels around the Cape of Good Hope has interrupted vessel arrival timetables at key ports, resulting in off-schedule arrivals and a ‘vessels bunching’ effect.

Since the start of 2024, Singapore has experienced a huge rise in vessel arrivals. Container volumes handled in Singapore in the first four months of 2024 totalled 13.36 million TEU. This is an 8.8 per cent increase in container volumes over the same time previous year.

Singapore’s rising container volumes and off-schedule arrivals have since led to lengthier wait times for container berths.

While most container vessels are berthed upon arrival, port operator PSA has worked with lines to change arrival timetables when possible. When this is not possible, the typical waiting period for container vessels is two to three days.

The increasing demand for container handling in Singapore is the consequence of numerous container lines discharging more containers in Singapore as they skip following voyages to make up for their upcoming schedules.

READ: MPA extends support to US Coast Guard amid Baltimore bridge collapse

The quantity of containers carried by each vessel has also risen. In addition to these needs, container lines are employing PSA’s cargo handling skills to better manage container stowage onboard vessels, allowing for more efficient cargo discharge for subsequent port visits.

In addition to the eight current berths at Tuas Port, three more berths will be operational later this year. PSA intends to hasten the commissioning of these additional berths in order to boost overall container handling capacity in the near future.

MPA and PSA are reportedly working closely with container lines and regional feeders to keep them updated on berth availability and arrival schedules in order to reduce berthing delays.

In April, MPA, Port of Los Angeles, and Port of Long Beach completed a comprehensive baselining study.

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