While China continues to ramp up production, the ripple effects of the supply chain disruptions are already being felt at the U.S. ports. The Port of New York and New Jersey will experience 10 blanked sailings over the next two weeks, which experts predict will net a 30 percent fall in cargo during March.
The figures suggest that the East Coast’s largest port and others on the coast could face some of the disruption and added expense that have afflicted West Coast ports, where larger waves of blank sailings in recent weeks have created container backlogs and increased detention and chassis costs, some of which have fallen on shippers. China accounts for 32 percent of all imports into New York-New Jersey, by far the most of any single country, authority figures show. But the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it expects the impact to be significantly smaller than on the West Coast.
The Port of Los Angeles this week reported that laden imports declined 22.5 percent in February compared with the same month last year, and the Port of Long Beach reported that laden imports fell 17.5 percent. New York-New Jersey will experience 20 blank sailings March and April, eight of them due to reduced factory production as the Chinese government implemented measures to deal with the coronavirus disease 2019, 12 were planned due to Chinese New Year factory closures.
Below is a general overview of the operations Mallory Alexander has been able to gather for most major U.S. ports. This list will be updated as information is made available.
Port of Los Angeles & Long Beach – Expected that blanked sailings will end mid-April to beginning of May. When vessels do return, the port expects conditions to be similar to peak season with surges in rail/truck congestion. All terminals remain open, although some do have planned closures for various days or during second shifts.
Port of New York & New Jersey – For freight originated from Asia, the port has had slightly more time to plan. 13 total blanked sailings are expected and 3 more in April. When vessels do return, the port expects issues with rail car supply for intermodal and chassis availability. As a result, NY/NJ is working with terminal operators to pre-empt this issue as much as possible.
Port of Virginia (Norfolk) – Volumes coming out of China are beginning to, albeit slowly, return to normal. With recent infrastructure improvements, the port has added capacity for containers but expects disruptions are still inevitable. The port also continues to operate a weekly barge service to Baltimore and Philadelphia, in the efforts to further alleviate potential congestion.
North Carolina Ports (Wilmington & Charleston) – While blanked sailings will continue to cause effects, Wilmington has recently made improvements to expand velocity. Current construction is furthering this initiative. Congestion is expected, but with the growth – hopefully minimized. Charleston is expecting a 20% drop in volume through April. No terminals closed as of yet as China-origin freight is only 25% of Charleston’s business exposure. The port is looking to summer for business to normalize.
Georgia Ports (Savannah) – The Georgia Ports Authority anticipates a double-digit decline in Savannah’s March volumes due to 30 blank sailings, and while Saturday hours will be temporarily cut, no weekday shifts will be eliminated or hours curtailed. With recent improvements, the throughput of the port has increased significantly. As a result, the Port of Savannah hopes this will minimize disruptions.
Port of New Orleans (NOLA) – Volumes were down significantly in February due to blanked sailings for China freight. NOLA is experiencing some empty container shortages for exports, but many of their carriers source empties from Central America, so this issue is minimal. However, NOLA does also have carriers that source from Memphis and Dallas, where supplies are tightening.