Probe into carriers’ role in port congestion

Long Beach A new investigation will look into whether ocean carriers operating in alliances are contributing to congestion at the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and New York and New Jersey. Photo: Port of Long Beach

The US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has given the go-ahead for an investigation into whether ocean carriers operating in alliances are contributing to congestion and underperformance at three major ports in the country.

A supplemental order approved by the Commission will expands the authority of Fact Finding 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement”. The order authorises Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye to investigate ocean carriers operating in alliances and calling the Port of Long Beach, the Port of Los Angeles, or the Port of New York and New Jersey, which she said are experiencing “extreme conditions”.

The investigation will seek to determine if the policies and practices of those shipping companies related to detention and demurrage, container return, and container availability for U.S. export cargoes violate 46 U.S.C. 41102(c).

Commissioner Dye stated: “The Commission has a compelling responsibility to investigate the situations that currently exist in our major port gateways. The Commission is concerned that certain practices of ocean carriers and their marine terminals may be amplifying the negative effect of bottlenecks at these ports and may be contrary to provisions in the Shipping Act of 1984.

“The potentially unreasonable practices of carriers and marine terminals regarding container return, export containers, and demurrage and detention charges in the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York/New Jersey present a serious risk to the ability of the United States to handle trade growth.”

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