Shortage of container ships in service is unsustainable

The largest problem facing the container shipping today is the lack of empty containers. This is what is causing very high spot rates. ESC addressed the European Commission with this issue.

As ESC also told the Container News, “this issue responds to what we call ‘grey containers’ which is repositioning empty containers not to where they are needed but to where there are high freight rates established. This may create an artificial view of relocating containers still far away from where the operational world is demanding them. The supporting policy to this is only more and more profits”.

The Dutch ESC member evofenedex states that the shortage of container ships in service and, as a result, a lack of containers in Europe, has become unsustainable. The shortage creates unsafe situations and there is a lot of traffic congestion in port areas. Evofenedex calls on shipping companies to bring more ships into service immediately. The container ships are overcrowded, which increases the chance of losing a cargo. One ship recently lost 200 containers north of Schiermonnikoog in the North Sea, another would even have lost more than 1800 containers on the route between Asia and the US.

The shipments get refused due to a shortage of transport capacity with the rates and surcharges piling up.

ESC Maritime Policy Manager Jordi Espin underlines that there is an easier way of repositioning containers: shipping lines should offer empty containers to shippers under the “shippers’ own” mode. This would relocate containers exactly where the shippers need them and would establish an exact pattern of what the operational world flows are demanding. But this latter solution needs a driven customer focus from the shipping lines, which seems not to be the case now.”

For more information, please see:

Container News article: “Updated: Shippers blame carriers for entirely predictable US container graveyard

evofenedex artcile (in Dutch): “Evofenedex roept rederijen in containervaart op actieplan op te stellen”