Maersk asks customers to divert returned empties from Felixstowe

Denmark-based Maersk has asked customers to divert returned empties from Felixstowe in an update on the supply chain situation at what is the UK’s busiest port.

Maersk said that the UK was currently suffering from a lack of truck drivers and that this was “causing several challenges, including terminal congestion in key ports, with limited inland haulage options”.

The shipper and logistics business said that it was seeing increased consumer demand due to retailers stocking up for Christmas. Last week Felixstowe port was forced to suspend the return of empty containers due to a very high yard density and increasing dwell times in the container yard. To ease the supply chain bottlenecks, Maersk has asked customers to divert the return of empty Maersk containers to alternative locations around the UK.

With limited options to discharge containers oceanside, Maersk has also decided temporarily to divert certain vessels to alternative ports. Its plan is then to move the containers via smaller vessels to their intended destinations.

“In view of ongoing berth congestion and resulting berthing delays in Felixstowe, by provisionally diverting the vessels that are currently waiting and bringing our customers cargo back on smaller vessels, we expect to minimize the current delays our customers are experiencing”, Maersk said, noting that “our immediate and top priority is to avoid further port congestion and disruptions for our customers, as all constituents fight to normalize operations”.

Maersk noted that, while the port had reopened its gates, it remained imperative that the empty flows at Felixstowe be reduced.

Maersk has also made a number of short-term structural changes to its network to mitigate further the impact on global supply chains.

Maersk said that it would continue to rely on the rail network as the backbone of its inland UK operations.

Maersk said previously that it was bringing in extra loaders, source berthing windows, and procuring additional off-dock storage facilities to relieve yard density.