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Five Alternative Container Ports
for Avoiding Congestion

by Eric Kulish
Freight Waves, January 3, 2022

Only the second time in nearly 15 years
the port has more than one weekly service from Asia.

At the Port of Portland, with shipping container service dropping to a fraction of what it once was, cranes sit idle and the docks are empty. . . .

Port of Portland

Several shipping lines stopped calling Portland, Oregon, in 2017 when productivity declined at a terminal operated by a Philippines-based company because of work slowdowns by disgruntled longshoremen. The port has always had difficulty attracting container lines because of the 100 extra miles vessels have to travel up the Columbia River and its export-dominated cargo flows.

Two years ago, South Korean carrier SM Line began weekly container service to Portland.

SM Line has added two additional vessels per month. Earlier this year it began a new intermodal rail service to move import loads to Chicago via the Union Pacific railway and four months ago it began bringing in additional loader vessels to handle local export cargo, for a total of six port calls per month.

In mid-September, Mediterranean Shipping Co., the largest container line in the world, began weekly trans-Pacific service to Portland -- only the second time in nearly 15 years the port has more than one weekly service from Asia. MSC recently announced a revised rotation for its Mustang service, which will begin calling Portland early this month. Portland is the first stop on the express service -- Los Angeles, Shanghai and Busan, South Korea are the others -- and most of the cargo will likely be unloaded there, which is an appealing feature for shippers interested in getting hold of their shipments sooner.

In mid-August, three large importers began bringing their goods to Portland's Terminal 6 every three weeks on charter vessels with capacity for 600 containers, according to the port's website. The vessel rentals were temporary to help the companies stock up in time for the holiday shopping season.

Seko Logistics has chartered similar-size vessels from brokers for the first time and is moving cargo for its customers through Portland and other secondary ports, Chief Growth Officer Brian Bourke said on the Dec. 1 edition of the FreightWaves show What the Truck?!?

Similarly, eight vessels carrying 53-foot domestic containers -- rather than the standard 20-foot or 40-foot size -- started calling the port in August and will continue making deliveries through 2022. Each vessel will offload 200 to 300 containers. The larger containers are used for intermodal shipments within North America. They are made in China and, as previously reported, some big box stores are loading them with merchandise for a one-way haul to take advantage of the capacity under tight market conditions.

. . .

Related Pages:
Weekly Container Shipping Returns to Portland's Terminal 6 by Donald Orr, Oregon Public Broadcasting, 1/15/20
ILWU, Dockworkers in Oregon Sued for Roles in Time Card Scam by Carl Horowitz, National Legal & Policy Center, 5/14/19
Export Terminal Files Lawsuit Against Union Workers Who Allegedly Inflated Time Sheets by Sarah Gonzalez, Ntl. Grain & Feed Assoc, 12/21/18
Workers at Portland Grain Terminal Falsified Time Sheets in Alleged Racketeering Scheme by Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, 12/18/18

Eric Kulish
Five Alternative Container Ports for Avoiding Congestion
Freight Waves, January 3, 2022

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