Containers are seen in the process of logistics operations at Port Newark Container Terminal and Maher Terminal owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in Bayonne, New Jersey, the United States, on Oct. 19, 2021. The United States has been plagued by supply chain disruptions in recent months, and the White House has asked the Port of Los Angeles to become a 24-hour port, open seven days a week. However, with the approach of holidays, which will see surging demand across the country, the shipping-based supply chain remains under stress. (Xinhua/Liu Yanan)
NEW YORK, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Port operators should keep shipping containers moving in the logistics chain to avoid delays or congestion, an official with the largest port on the U.S. East Coast said Tuesday.
"If the users, the importers are using the terminal to store containers, that's where you run into problems, because the terminals just aren't built to store containers. They are built and operated to move containers," Sam Ruda, director of the Port Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told Xinhua in an interview.
Ruda made the remarks as the United States is battling with congestion of shipping containers in some major ports. It is reported that dozens of ships remain at anchor outside the harbor of the West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with hundreds of thousands of containers on board.
It is really about the efficiency of the hand-offs from ship to terminal, from terminal to truck, from truck to rail and the return flow of empty containers, Ruda said.
It is important that when the imported cargo is unloaded, it goes out the gate to the warehouse distribution facility as fast as possible, he said.
"I think where ports are getting into problems with congestion is dwell time at the terminal," said Ruda, who has been working in the industry for decades.
"If the terminal gets filled, then you have no space to unload cargo from the ships. We've been able to keep that cycle fairly fluid to the port. But our terminal operators are watching this very, very carefully," Ruda said.
The Port of New York and New Jersey did not experience big backlog vessels despite some 24 percent of growth in cargo volume so far in 2021, said Ruda, adding he expects the volume to remain strong through the balance of this year.
The United States has been plagued by supply chain disruptions in recent months, and the White House has asked the Port of Los Angeles to become a 24-hour port, open seven days a week. However, with the approach of holidays, which will see surging demand across the country, the shipping-based supply chain remains under stress.
With a record 100 ships waiting to enter and unload at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and 57 at berth as of Monday, the congestion in Southern California's San Pedro Bay has never been higher, according to data released by the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which provides vital statistics and information on ships calling at major ports in the region.
The Port of New York and New Jersey completed capacity expansion on several fronts a few years ago, and labor supply held up well amid the COVID-19 pandemic with personal protective equipment supplied to workers, according to Ruda.
Noting that the vessel side has been able to operate 24 hours daily, he said that some cargo has been shifted from the U.S. West Coast to the East Coast for a variety of reasons, and more vessels are using the Suez route, which links the Asia Pacific to the U.S. East Coast.
"The (shipping) lines are deploying capacity to the extent that they can get it to the East Coast, and we've been a beneficiary of that in terms of our cargo volume," he said.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and terminal operators could spend around 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in upgrading infrastructure in the next five to seven years, according to Ruda.
"In terms of our planning horizon with our terminal operators, we really need to push forward now the next generation of capacity densification at the terminals," he said. Enditem
(Julia Pierrepont III in Los Angeles also contributed to the story.)