MEGA-SHIPS are causing crippling congestion at major US ports, particularly at Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York and New Jersey, according to PIERS data.
This despite denials from the World Shipping Council, which represents owners of 90 per cent of world shipping, that it was mostly the fault of terminal operators and inefficient inland cargo handling.
But the facts are that the number of containers lifted on and off ships of 8,000 TEU average 5,108 in Los Angeles-Long Beach and 4,295 in New York-New Jersey - far more than are handled by the same ships at other ports, according to PIERS data.
In Norfolk, Virginia, the average container lifts on and off vessels of 8,000-TEU capacity or greater is 1,592. It drops to 1,367 in Savannah and 792 in Oakland.
Even the busiest ports in Asia and Europe average 2,400 - 3,800 container lifts per same-size vessel per call, says PIERS data - even though 18,000-TEUers are common.
In those trades, vessels will make a half-dozen calls along the way, generating only 2,000 to 3,000 container moves per call.
The biggest problem comes from narrow berthing windows when 4,000 - 5,000 boxes over the two to three days choke terminal yards and gate operations, generating miles of angry truckers.
"I am planning now for 17,800 moves from 18,000-TEU vessels, and they will be here soon," said Larry Nye, vice president of port planning at California's Moffatt and Nichol engineers.
Automation is the next step, said Mark Sisson, who leads the marine analysis group at AECOM. He was referring to the TraPac terminal in Los Angeles, the Middle Harbour terminal in Long Beach and Global Terminals in New York-New Jersey. "People with money are putting it into those ports," he said.
The reason LA and New York have more boxes in and out is because containers "go where the people are", Mr Sisson said.
Also, unlike European and Asian ports that do a lot of transshipment from barges and feeder vessels, the two large US gateways handle almost exclusively full containers moving inland and a mix of export loads and empties leaving outbound, with little to no transshipment.
Source : HKSG.