Heavy congestion of containers at Liverpool Port after IT outage

The Port of Liverpool has experienced a congestion of shipping containers, with ships suffering delays arriving and exiting the port due to understaffing, an IT outage and high density of stock, reported S&P Global Platts last week, June 17th, citing unnamed sources.

Containers had been delayed for several hours. There was a shortage of stevedores on site to help the discharge of goods. Hauliers were struggling to book entry into the port amid lags in cargo flow.

Haulier jobs normally lasting a few hours were now taking up a better part of the day, the report claimed.

The Port of Liverpool had seen increasing stocks among carriers after

Felixstowe Port in Suffolk, UK, suffered difficulties last year. In November 2020 Felixstowe, which is the UK’s busiest container port — came under extreme pressure in the lead-up to Christmas. Significant backlogs caused by a container shortage due to surging Asian demand resulted in the reallocation of some ships to Rotterdam. The owner, Hutchison Ports, blamed pre-Brexit stockpiling and the coronavirus pandemic for the backlogs, with delays expected to continue into 2021.

Subsequent to this Peel Ports, which operates Liverpool Port, sought hard to make Liverpool an attractive alternative to Felixstowe. The noises now being heard are that the port might have become a victim of its own success. With a significant increase in the number of ships calling at the port, longer wait times were occurring onshore for hauliers, which had its own unfortunate knock-on effects.

Peel Ports has said that the delays were a result of several factors impacting the Terminal 1 turnaround times, including an IT outage and high stock density. A Peel Ports spokesperson confirmed delays of up to 2.5 hours, with normal discharge turnaround times usually taking one to two hours.

David Huck, Managing Director of Group Ports said that “we understand that any issues with the smooth running of the port are frustrating for customers and we recognize an efficient haulier interchange is critical to the port’s and haulier’s offer,” adding that  the port had spent much of last week working through the backlog caused by the previous week’s delays. While some issues might have remained into this week, the port hoped that service levels would “return to the high standards usually offered by the Port of Liverpool.”