According to Carl W. Bentzel, Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission, the congestion at US ports comes from the lack of accountability in moving the buildup of empty containers back into the terminals.
Daniel B. Maffei visited the Port of New York and New Jersey in order to meet with trucking representatives and marine terminal operators regarding the increasing congestion at the US’s number two port for containerized cargo.he statement by Mr. Bentzel came after Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chairman
According to Carl W. Bentzel:
Empty containers, and perhaps even export containers, are being rejected for return or delivery, because of the surging levels of imports that need to be handled. The industry needs to come together to plan how to better respond to the current challenges of returning empties to the Port
As explained, during 2021 he urged ocean shipping alliances participating on the Council on Port Performance (CPP) to work to help coordinate policies with their marine terminal partners in order to better coordinate delivery of their equipment.
However, he noted that this has not happened, and the situation has gotten much worse. “I understand that the problem is spreading to other east coast ports such as Baltimore, which reported to me last week that they too have an overflow of empty containers, hindering terminal operations and port fluidity.”
In my view, it is fundamentally unfair to require small and large trucking companies to pay storage costs to store ocean carrier owned containers. I would point out that we are still receiving allegations that, in addition to storage costs that, perhaps some carriers may also still be assessing detention charges, even though it is impossible to return containers – a double whammy
In the meantime, Mr. Bentzel continues to urge the carriers, marine terminals, shippers, and trucking interests to work with the relevant port authorities to develop better planning for the return of empty containers, and ultimate redeployment of badly needed transportation assets.