Supply chain visibility data tracked by project44 indicates that berthing delays are causing a huge build-up of export containers within port terminals and creating a big spike in container dwell times globally.

Berthing delay is defined as the time it takes a ship between its arrival at anchorage till the time it is berthed to commence cargo operations. If there is a queue of ships waiting for a berth, the ships wait at anchorage until it is their turn to berth.

According to the latest data from project44, export containers at the Port of Los Angeles took an average of 11.85 days to be loaded on a ship between October 2021 and November 2021 while Port of Long Beach took an average of 10.98 days.

With export containers taking about twice as long to move through US West Coast ports as import containers, the problem appears to be getting containers off of docks and onto ships.

Based on project44’s data and analysis, long export container dwell times occur when ships berth days after their scheduled berthing times. While these ships wait at anchor, containers that were delivered on time languish at the docks, waiting for their arrival.

If a carrier advises its customers to deliver export containers at a certain date and time based on the ETA/berthing schedule of the ship and that ship’s berthing is then delayed, then there will be a build-up of export containers waiting inside the port for the ship,” said Josh Brazil, VP of Data Insights at project44.

This appears to be what’s happening, based on the data we’re seeing. Export containers are subsequently waiting in ports for ships, which are taking longer than expected to arrive.

As of this release, while dozens of container vessels are slow steaming far off the California coast, we are seeing close to 37 container ships close to shore waiting to berth at these ports and it’s these long queues that are pushing up dwell times on export containers,” said Brazil.