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Ocean Trade Summary

Calendar Week 38 & 39 Update

General Update

As available capacity, erratic sailing schedules, blank sailings and port omissions continue around the globe, all published loadings and transit times are indicative and subject to change as per carrier service adjustments. We continue to strive to load as per the planned schedules and endeavour to accommodate all bookings for timely loading. All carriers have cautioned that capacity constraints continue to worsen over the coming months, with further delays being predicted for hazardous cargo and heavy weight / dense shipments, weight restrictions are being imposed on more services.

Extended lead times and advance bookings are recommended to all clients. Both import and export services are being impacted by the shipping line capacity constraints.

News articles of interest regarding capacity & freight rates:

  • Port Congestion Causing Global Trade to Stagnate

Source: – 25/09/2021

  • Transpacific Spot Rates Ease Ahead of China’s Golden Week Holiday

Source: The Loadstar, via – 24.09.2021

  • Drewry: World Container Index Steady During the Past Week, but 299% Higher Than A Year Ago

Source: - 25/09/2021

What Now – thoughts from Mike Short?

  • No one solution is going to bring an end to the challenges of today’s market. But there are a few proven best practices shippers can use to better navigate the current challenges:

    Maintain a flexible approach and be open to different options To stay on top of this market, global shippers must commit to maintaining a flexible approach toward moving their freight. Remaining open to new and different options, such as less-than-container-load (LCL) ocean shipping, different routings or air charters when needed, as well as on-the-spot troubleshooting, can significantly improve shipping outcomes. For example, for one C.H. Robinson customer moving PPE (personal protective equipment), Thomas Scientific, air charters were a fast-shipping option that offered a great deal of flexibility for last minute demand shifts during the pandemic. The team worked with airlines to charter passenger planes with the seats removed for cargo flights, which offered a creative alternative to crowded cargo flights and other shipping options.
  • Seek support from providers who can use information to your advantage When needed, shippers should consider partnering with a logistics provider that can give data-driven market insights to drive smarter solutions for their business. Sometimes shippers aren’t aware of all their options and need quick help figuring out how to circumvent disruptions to keep current and future orders on track. We’ve seen these solutions play out with our global experts and technology platform, Navisphere, by providing shippers with the aggregated data and analysis they need to determine which ports or terminals to avoid and the right tactics to overcome unique challenges.
  • Closely collaborate and communicate with supply chain partners In a market as challenging as this one, close collaboration and frequent communication with supply chain experts are critical. For example, we’ve seen shippers overcome a variety of new challenges this year because they allowed daily cross-functional meetings with our team and theirs. To develop robust solutions, both teams need to truly understand all aspects of shipping challenges and what a company is trying to achieve.

Final Thoughts

Shipping disruptions likely won’t be ending soon. It has taken the industry about a year to get to this point, so it’s safe to say that it may take just as long for things to revert to normal levels or to adjust to the higher demand. Shippers have had to become increasingly nimble and informed to create success throughout this past year, and they must commit to staying flexible and seeking alternative solutions to continue overcoming obstacles.

South Africa ports update

There has been little change in terminal operations as high traffic volumes, congestion and equipment and manpower challenges continue in all major terminals in South Africa.
Extended berthing delays in the terminals impact already constrained and delayed vessel schedules.


Terminals – as at the end of week 39, vessel berthing waiting periods; as follows -

Pier 1

1 - 4 days

Pier 2

5 - 7 days

Durban Point     

10 days

High traffic volumes continue; with long waiting periods for container pick up and container delivery which is impacting on the scheduled appointment times.  With high volumes being moved through the port, appointment scheduling has been constrained and there is significant waiting periods for confirmed appointments.

Cape Town:

Terminals – as at the end of week 39, vessel berthing waiting time is reported as follows:


1 - 2 days


2 - 3 days

Coega & Port Elizabeth:

Terminals – as at the end of week 39, vessel berthing waiting time is reported as follows:


1 - 2 days


No delay


NORAM update

Amex (MSC & Maersk)

There has been no improvement to the challenges being experienced in the USA. Equipment shortages, transport delays, high terminal congestion and high cargo demand continue to impact all services from the US. The West Coast and Midwest regions are the most severely impacted.

Rail containers are taking at least 2-3 weeks to get onto a rail wagon from Chicago due to equipment shortages, driver shortages, embargos by the rails. When the containers finally reach the ports, i8t can take up to 4 weeks for these to be loaded on board a vessel due to over allocated vessels, blank sailings etc.

Severe congestion in Canada, with advisory being issued relating to Vancouver port, whereby severe congestion may cause delays in container movement and resultant D&D charges are being applied by carriers.

The main US marine gateway complex is pulling out all the stops in an effort to reduce congestion that is suffocating import flows. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are extending gate hours during nights and weekends. Los Angeles is expanding gate hours on weekends, while Long Beach is keeping gates open between 2am and 7am. The joint announcement from both ports followed consultation with multiple supply chain stakeholders and the US Department of Transportation, as concern over supply chain disruption has kept mounting.

Last week a record 65 vessels were at anchor in San Pedro Bay waiting for slots to discharge their cargo. The pile-up brought the average wait time for ships at the port complex to 8.7 days, up from 6.2 days in mid-August. The ship waiting the longest arrived on 23 August.

By one estimate door-to-door transit times from China to the US using container vessels have reached 71 days, compared to 40 days two years ago.

With regard to exports into South Africa, the AMEX service vessels remain over committed with high volumes of cargo being booked. Anticipated GRI’s are advised for Q4.

  • Maersk Vallvik – vessel will omit Durban due to berthing delays. Import cargo will be discharged in Coega for transhipment to Durban. Export bookings will be transferred to next available vessel.
  • MSC Jeanne – vessel will omit ports of Norfolk and Baltimore and will phase out of the US / SA service in Freeport.

LATAM update

Hapag Lloyd & MSC

Vessel capacity is severely constrained ex South America into South Africa; with expectations that very limited, to no capacity will be available well into October. With capacity constraints and blank sailings on the Santos to Port Elizabeth service; October will see a change of routing to move Port Elizabeth and Cape Town cargo over Durban. The carrier service is fortnightly; however, we should see an improvement with regards to transit times. Rate increases will be applied to this service.

UK & NWC update


Vessel changes, i.e. phase in / phase out of service continue with MSC on this trade, which does result in amendments to our partners’ published schedules. High cargo demand out of Europe, port congestion and vessel delays continue to impact loadings. Amendments to port rotations and increasing port omissions, unscheduled transhipments and in some cases additional port calls are negatively impacting transit times. On both inbound and outbound services, we have been advised by the shipping lines that the vessels are over[1]committed, and this has resulted in rolled containers and delayed transhipments. Alternative shipping lines may be sourced where possible, resulting in last minute updates and changes to published schedules. Feeder vessels into transhipment hubs of Algeciras and Las Palmas are also over-committed and we are seeing some transhipment delays.

  • Maira XL – vessel will omit CPT southbound call and all containers will remain on board for discharge on the northbound call. ETA 30.09.2021
  • Dal Kalahari 213S– vessel will omit CPT southbound call and all containers will remain on board for discharge on the northbound call. ETA 07.10.2021
  • Dal Kalahari 213S – due to no berthing window, the vessel will omit Algeciras southbound call. This will impact all transhipment cargo ex Italy and Spain scheduled for this vessel. Containers originally planned for this vessel are being transferred to the Santa Isabel, ETA Algeciras 15.09.2021
  • MSC Sariska – Vessel is delayed in Hamburg due to technical issues and will not be deployed to South Africa. There is no replacement vessel and therefore no sailing ex NWC on the week of this vessels deployment. Containers planned for this vessel ex Hamburg now scheduled for the MSC Vita; which may now face stability issues. NZ134A will now be a blanked sailing to South Africa ex NWC
  • MSC Vita – Vessel will cover voyage NZ135A in LGP – 05.09.2021; please note stability concerns due to MSC Sariska not being deployed
  • MSC Sasha – vessel will phase out of the NWC service in Rotterdam. All SA containers for Hamburg import will be discharged in Rotterdam and loaded onto next available vessel. ETA RTM is 23.09.2021
  • MSC Letizia –Vessel is now scheduled to phase onto the NWC service replacing MSC Melissa (originally planned to replace MSC Sasha which is being phased out of the service). MSC Letizia is due to phase into the service covering voyage NZ136A in ROT – 17.09.2021. The vessel will have an additional port call in Lome (after Las Palmas). Vessel will omit Cape Town southbound call; import cargo for CPT will discharge on the northbound call. • MSC Arica – vessel is phasing into the NWC service (replacing the MSC Athens which is phasing out). Vessel will cover voyage NZ137A in London 23.09.2021, with ETA into CPT 18.10.2021
  • MSC Branka – vessel will phase out of the NWC service and will omit Hamburg. Hamburg import containers will discharge Bremerhaven. ETA 01/10.2021
  • MV Paris II – vessel will phase into NWC service in Hamburg ex US ETA 30/09 and will omit London
  • MSC Brittany – due to MSC Branka amendment, the MSC Brittany will now slide by one week, covering voyage NZ139A in LGP – 02.10.2021
  • MSC Chloe – due to the MSC Branka amendment, the MSC Chloe will now slide by one week, covering voyage NZ140A in LGP – 09.10.2021
  • MV Cape Tainaro – vessel will follow MSC Chloe, covering NZ141A in LGP – 16.10.2021
  • Santa Isabel 214S – due to delays experienced on previous voyage, the vessel will omit Cape Town southbound call and sail directly to Coega. CPT cargo will remain on board for discharge on the northbound call – ETA 14.10.2021
  • Santa Ursula 214S – due to delays experienced on previous voyage, the vessel will omit Cape Town southbound call and sail directly to Coega. CPT cargo will remain on board for discharge on the northbound call – ETA 21.10.2021
  • Santa Barbara 214S – vessel will omit Cape Town southbound call. CPT cargo to remain on board for discharge on the northbound call.

Middle East, Subcontinent and Indian Ocean Islands

All services remain heavily congested with very limited carrier capacity.
Hazardous acceptance by shipping lines is delayed and we continue to work with origin booking parties and shipping lines to secure acceptance as soon as possible.

We are advised that :-

  • Currently no carrier is releasing bookings ex India into Cape Town.

Space into Durban is severely constrained and equipment challenges continue; MSC – currently not accepting bookings; ZIM – no service currently for South Africa; ONE – vessels delayed and unable to confirm schedule or next vessel; Hapag – same service as ONE; PIL – no space, rates are excessively high and routing is via Colombo; Maersk – no capacity and no 40’ equipment available; CMA – no capacity and no 40’ equipment available.

APAC (Including Oceania)

Carrier capacity remains at a premium from the region, with carrier scheduling changes, vessel delays and blank sailings. Possible delays anticipated out of major transhipment hubs, e.g. Singapore and Tanjung Pelepas.
See MSC blank sailing announcement attached.

Both inbound and outbound services are affected by carrier capacity constraints.

Mid-Autumn Festival was celebrated in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan between 20th and 23rd September 2021. Golden Week will be celebrated in China and Hong Kong between the 1st and 7th of October 2021. Please refer to our advisory dated 7th September for specific closure dates in the region.

Australia:  New industrial action notifications have been received from the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) for our Brisbane and Sydney terminals.

Terminal Operations Update

Patrick Terminals - Sydney

Delays are forecast to extend to up to 2 days with the 24-hour stoppages across the first weekend in October

Patrick Terminals - Brisbane

The terminal is currently experiencing low-level impact from industrial action

Patrick Terminals - Fremantle

The terminal continues to be impacted by industrial action resulting in some extended port stays for vessels.

One vessel has been subcontracted this week to assist our customers in managing their networks

Patrick Terminals - Melbourne

The terminal continues to be impacted by industrial action resulting in some delays with delays expected to increase in relation to new notifications.

  1. On 21ST September: Melbourne Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) has been affected by an outbreak of Covid-19, hence terminal operations have been ceased temporarily.

Meanwhile, some delays to vessels' berthing/sailing/loading/discharging will be expected; we will share more information once it is available to us.     

  1. Melbourne Patrick Terminal will roll out a Weight Amendment Fee for Import Containers fee of AUD230/CTR plus GST. This is applied to both FCL & LCL container load.

Below are verbal updates received from carriers over the last week: 

  1. ONE:  stop releasing 40GP at China – Shanghai, due to equipment deficit. Please consider 40HQ/NOR or even 20GP as substitution / alternative.
  2. With the continuous blank sailings, port congestions on Oceania Service; MSC shared that they’re facing a roll-pool of 7,000TEUs at SGSIN.

This is causing a heavy delay of between 8 and 12WEEKS for shipments heading to AUWC & New Zealand. As for AUEC, an approximate of 4-5WEEKS delays is expected.

Currently, first in - first-out (FIFO) methodology has been adopted to clear the backlog.

South Africa Export Outlook

Vessel capacity out of South Africa is severely constrained.  Over-committed vessels coupled with vessel and port delays has seen shipping lines rolling bookings and reducing ‘dry stacks’.