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Oakland congestion spurs Zim to reroute premium China service to LA
Source
American Shipper
Post Date
06/07/2021

Zim Integrated Shipping Services for at least the next two months will reroute its premium service from North China to Oakland to call only in Los Angeles due to congestion and vessel backlogs in the Northern California port.

Zim told JOC.com Thursday that the service, which was designed to offer customers guarantees of vessel space in Asia and expedited handling of containers in Oakland, cannot maintain those standards with vessel delays of 10 to 12 days in Oakland.

Effective immediately, the weekly Central China E-Commerce Xpress service will call inbound from China directly in Los Angeles, where the vessels will be unloaded and reloaded completely before returning to Ningbo. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have also been experiencing vessel bunching and delays, but the average vessel delay in Los Angeles this week is down to five days, according to the Signal, the platform that is published daily by the Port of Los Angeles.

Earlier this year, Zim and CMA CGM initiated first-call inbound services from Asia to Oakland in order to relieve some of the congestion that has generated vessel bunching, equipment shortages and congested terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach during 10 consecutive months of record or near-record import volumes from Asia.

However, Oakland the past two months has been experiencing similar vessel bunching problems due to record cargo volumes, with 20 or more vessels each day forced to remain at anchor awaiting berthing space. Imports from Asia through Oakland increased 31.6 percent year over year in the first four months of 2021, according to PIERS, a JOC.com sister product within IHS Markit. On-time vessel performance from Asia to the US West Coast was at 22.2 percent in April, according to Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis.

In addition, Oakland International Container Terminal, which handles about 75 percent of the port’s total container volume, had one of its four berths out of service since January while installing and testing three new super post-Panamax cranes. OICT last week completed the certification process and has been working vessels at the fourth berth since May 27.

Due to a longshore labor shortage, terminal operators in Oakland are also being restricted to no more than two work gangs per vessel. In the past, there were no such restrictions.

Bryan Brandes, maritime director at the Port of Oakland, told JOC.com the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents terminal operators on the West Coast, have launched a program to register and train longshoremen for sed equipment-operator positions. With the ing of the fourth berth at OICT and the dockworker-training program, Oakland should relieve its congestion and vessel-bunching problems by late July-early August, Brandes said.


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