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Backlog of ships at North American ports has improved

Backlog of ships at North American ports has improved



As of Thursday, 99 container ships were waiting outside North American ports, a significant improvement from the beginning of the year.There is still a long way to go to clear the backlog of ships. But the current reading is back to June levels and down 35% from its recent peak.


The number of ships waiting outside North American ports peaked at about 150 in January, almost all of them on the west coast. The number of ships in the queue has dwindled throughout the spring as the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach has seen a reduction in cargo traffic.


At the end of July, the number of ships in the queue rebounded to more than 150, driven by congestion at ports along the East Coast and Gulf Coast. Since then, the number of ships in the queue has gradually declined. As of noon Thursday, there were 27 container ships on the West Coast and 72 on the East and Gulf Coasts, according to MarineTraffic location data and the latest ship queue lists from California ports.


The port of Savannah, Georgia, still has the largest queue, with 29 container ships waiting to dock, but that is down from the 48 reported in early August. Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Port Authority (GPA), said "the easing in demand is expected to help U.S. ports address the backlog" of ships, with the Port of Savannah expected to clear its queue by the end of November.


The Port of Houston was next, with 17 vessels waiting outside the port as of Thursday, down from about 20 last month. At other ports on the East Coast and Gulf Coast, 14 container ships are waiting for berths at the Port of New York-New Jersey, seven at the port of Virginia, two at the port of Florida, two at the Port of New Orleans and one at the Port of Charleston, South Carolina.


The backlog of ships at West Coast ports continues to shrink. Only seven container ships were waiting for berths outside the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach on Thursday. The port complex, once a congested hub for container ships, peaked on Jan. 9 this year with 109 ships waiting to dock.




As the number of ships in the queue at the port dwindles, waiting capacity is released into the market. This increases the effective ship capacity and the number of available Spaces. The easing of port congestion puts downward pressure on spot rates if it is not offset by empty sailings or suspension of service by carriers.




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