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Cargo Ships Are Trying To Avoid Big Ports

FILE PHOTO: Container ships and oil tankers wait outside the Port of Long Beach-Port of Los Angeles complex. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Posted on November 9, 2021

By Kevin Varley(Bloomberg) –Congestion at many of the world’s major ports offered a snapshot of supply chains trying to avoid unprecedented bottlenecks, as cargo handlers searched for the quickest way to route goods through the clogged arteries of global commerce.

The number of container ships off China’s largest trade hub, the combined anchorage area of Shanghai-Ningbo, stood at 248 on Friday, 31 less than the April-to-October median, while its smaller neighbor to the north, the regional port of Tianjin, was saddled with 14 waiting container carriers, 11 more than usual.

Bloomberg News is observing vessel activity in the same areas over a period of time, analysis that can help show where strains in global supply chains are most severe or easing.

Southern California remained a logistical mess, with at least 79 vessels waiting to offload in Los Angeles and Long Beach, the largest container complex in the Americas.

In Asia’s second-largest combined anchorage spot, Hong Kong-Shenzhen, the ship count stood at 221 — 30 more than the median, while its smaller southern neighbor, Qinzhou, saw a more modest high of 10 container ships over the same study period.

Singapore, which drew down from Monday’s high of 53 waiting ships, had 17 more waylaid vessels than usual, creating a congestion rate of 48.2%, or 10.5 percentage points higher than the median. In neighboring Malaysia, Tanjung Pelepas saw its net congestion jump 30.5 points to 57.1% and Port Klang’s rose 7.5 points to 37.1%.

The trend was similar in the U.S. The number of ships off Savannah, Georgia, the nation’s fourth-largest port, dropped to the lowest since Oct. 4. The neighboring anchorages near Charleston, South Carolina, and Florida’s Fort Lauderdale saw their highest counts since Bloomberg starting tracking the data — Charleston had 11 container ships waiting and Fort Lauderdale had 10.

United Arab Emirates’ combined hub of Jebel Ali and Dubai tied its highest counts from April to November at 55 container ships, with congestion at 22.2%, well below the global average of 32.8%. The Greek port of Piraeus continued to set new highs, as the 29 ships counted in its anchorage topped a count earlier this week by one.

–With assistance from Jane Pong and Adrian Leung.


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