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Hundreds of boxships held up by widespread port delays

More than 600 containerships are waiting outside ports across the world, unable to go directly to a berth on arrival because of congestion on the quayside or in storage yards.

This represents around 12% of the world boxship fleet in terms of ship numbers, and includes vessels of all sizes from very small locally deployed tonnage right up to those with intakes of 23,000TEU.

A recent analysis estimated that the amount of TEU capacity effectively inactive because of supply chain delays also amounted to more than 12 per cent. The delays also mean that thousands of seafarers are stuck on board ships that are unable to dock at their scheduled time.

Initially mostly affecting the US, where consumer spending rebounded spectacularly, ship queues have spread to all corners of the world, with just about every reasonable-sized boxport affected to some extent.

Most ports handling containerships in the deepsea trades are suffering from some disruption, but many of the biggest are severely gridlocked.

They include Los Angeles, Long Beach, New York/New Jersey and even the Canadian port Prince Rupert in North America.

A record 100 ships of all types were at anchor or in holding areas outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on 18 October, according to Marine Exchange of Southern California, up from the previous record of 97.

The latest number was only just below the recent all-time high of 73. Furthermore, another 23 boxships are scheduled to arrive in southern California in the coming three days, six more than the normal level for this time of year, prior to the pandemic.

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