US port container-ship queues shorten

By last Friday October 14th there were fewer than 100 container ships stuck waiting off North American ports, some 35% off the recent highs, but still considerably higher than the single-digit norms pre-Covid.

The number of ships waiting off North American ports peaked at around 150 in January, at which time the waiting vessels were almost exclusively waiting off the West Coast.

Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, then improved their cargo flows, but the queue went back above 150 in late July. Since then it has gradually declined.

According to an American Shipper survey of MarineTraffic ship-position data, together with the latest queue lists from California ports, as of noon last Friday there were 27 container vessels off the West Coast and 72 off the East and Gulf coasts.

Savannah, Georgia, continues to have the largest queue, with 29 container vessels waiting, down from a reported 48 in early August,

Elsewhere off East and Gulf coast ports, there were 14 container ships waiting for berths at the Port of New York and New Jersey, seven off the coast of Virginia, two off Florida, two off New Orleans and one off Charleston, South Carolina.

On the other side of the US, there were eight container vessels in the queue off Los Angeles/Long Beach, with 13 ships waiting in Oakland, California.

The fall in queues has been attributed at least in part to the fall-off in demand in the US as interest rates rise. US imports fell by an estimated 12% month-on-month in September.