From Shekou to Seattle, Amsterdam to Auckland, containerships are backing up like never before in the 65-year history of the industry as the liner industry grapples with the enormous strain brought by Covid-19 and exceptional consumer behavior.
While much has been written about the ongoing port congestion issues in the US and the fallout from a recent outbreak of Covid-19 at ports in South China, the map (see below) supplied by Seaexplorer clearly shows the global phenomenon of liner congestion in 2021.
As it stands today, there are more than 300 containerships waiting for berth spaces to open up around the world.
Looking at the map today, Simon Heaney, senior manager, container research at UK consultants Drewry, said that bottlenecks and delays at ports around the world are the symptom of the wider breakdown in the supply chain infrastructure, all related to the pandemic that spurred changes in consumption habits and reduced inland productivity.
Commenting via LinkedIn, Otto Schacht, executive vice president for sea logistics at Kuehne + Nagel, noted: “Shippers better increase inventories, supply chains are too tight, just in time does not work in these times, consumer demand will remain strong.”
“It is very clearly a global problem as the map shows, and as such is going to take time to be resolved,” Heaney said, suggesting that there are “big philosophical questions” the industry and its customers need to address about how to best avoid a repeat of this calamitous scenario.
Red dots represent clusters of ships while orange ones mark out ports that are congested or suffering from disrupting operations.