Felixstowe strike could see challenges to supply chains: advisory

The anticipated eight-day strike at the UK port of Felixstowe, leading up to Bank Holiday Monday on August 29th, will be a key risk factor in near term planning decisions of supply chain managers, reports Vessels Value in its weekly report.

Felixstowe is one of the UK’s top Container ports and a critical hub in the region’s logistics network. Vivek Srivastava, Senior Trade Flow Analyst, noted that Felixstowe had handled 713 Containerships over the past 12 months, behind only London Gateway and Southampton. However, it has berthed a greater proportion of the larger ship types than either of those two.

This includes 175 Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs), compared to Southampton’s 80 and London Gateway’s 40.

On the plus side, with 12 days’ advance notice, lines and shippers with any degree of flexibility should be able to respond in time.

Following a recent spell of congestion at Felixstowe, major lines Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) diverted their AE7 service, which originates in Shanghai and calls at places including Yantian and Columbo on the way to nearby Wilhelmshaven in Germany. Depending on ship type, other UK ports might also be considered.

Over the past year waiting times at Felixstowe have been volatile, with the current waiting time of 10 hours (five-year average, eight hours), considerably down from the peak of 40 hours in March this year and 21 hours at this time last year.

Average waiting times currently were three hours at Southampton, almost nothing at London Gateway, and six hours at Wilhelmshaven, said VesselsValue.