Construction projects near terminals on the US West Coast (USWC) could lead to significant congestion if ultra large container vessels (ULCVs) are introduced before their completion, a weekly report by Drewry has claimed.
Road closures caused by work to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge are affecting traffic flows to and from California’s Terminal Island and will continue to do so until its completion next year.
Meanwhile work on the $1.3bn Middle Harbour Terminal Redevelopment Project, which will convert two existing terminals into fully automated facilities, continues in Long Beach.
According to Drewry, April’s alliance restructuring, which reduced the number of services in the Asia-USWC lane by one to 37, could exacerbate congestion as more cargo is now squeezed onto fewer weekly services.
Additionally, since the start of 2017 the number of monthly 13,000+ teu container ships arriving at USWC rose from 21 to 36 monthly, which will test the terminals in the peak season summer months, the report noted.
The Harbor Trucking Association (HTA) recorded that the average turnaround time across the 14 Los Angeles-Long Beach terminals in April was 80 minutes, faster than January (88 mins) and February (89 mins), which suggests the reshuffle has not disrupted operations significantly thus far.
However, automated terminals recorded much quicker average visits, such as Long Beach Container Terminal E that logged an average visit time of 41 minutes.
According to Drewry, while HTA recorded no significant disruption caused by the works, welcoming bigger ships and thus more intense terminal activity could risk future congestion, and importers would be wise to wait until the construction work is over before considering using ULCVs.