The Ever Given is free to go back to what it does best, hauling thousands of containers of cargo around the world. It’s finally arrived at its destination in Rotterdam, Netherlands, putting an end to a lengthy saga. But it’s not the end of the problems faced by the shipping industry.
The Suez Canal Authority set the Ever Given free on July 7. Ever Given spent over 100 days trapped in some way in the Suez Canal before finally heading out and setting sail for Rotterdam. You’d think this is where the story ends, but the ship, its 18,000 containers, and the shipping industry are still making headlines.
Ever Given reached the Netherlands on Thursday, pulling into the Port of Rotterdam after its first real voyage in a long time, reports the Wall Street Journal. Onboard, the $700 million goods in its containers are finally finding their way to their respective customers, four months late. A portion of the freight onboard is clothing, and arriving four months late presents a challenge, from the Wall Street Journal:
“First, we had lockdowns,” said Ad Schoenmakers, director of Dutch freight forwarder Ritra Cargo Holland BV, whose customers include some smaller retailers with cargo on the ship. “Then, we had the Ever Given. The problems keep on coming.” He said a cargo of women’s summer fashion wear, which was supposed to have been in shops in April, will now have to be sold at a discount or stay in a warehouse for a year.
Ever Given’s next port is in the UK, where it’ll offload even more products that were stuck with the ship in the Suez. That cargo includes $100,000 of commercial refrigerators, bicycles and more.
If you thought that the shipping industry’s woes were over, you’d be mistaken. While port congestion is easing with fewer ships milling around ports waiting for their turn, Quartz reports that the container shortage is only getting worse. Exporters are waiting weeks just to find containers to get cargo into and when they do, they find that the price for that container has doubled.
And weirdly, the problem isn’t even a lack of containers. There are enough containers out there, but many are piled up in import hubs, from Quartz:
Cargo ships that were already en route out of Asia dropped off hundreds of thousands of containers full of goods in ports across the Americas—but because of pandemic restrictions, they couldn’t load those containers back up with new products to send back to Asia. Instead, the containers piled up in ports and inland rail depots.
Making matters worse is that some ships are running so far behind schedule that containers are being left behind to save time. The container shortage is leading to incentives for ships to carry empty containers back to Asia, reports the Western Farm Press.
While the story of the Ever Given is over, shipping remains a mess. The shortage could ease up next year if ships stop getting stuck in canals and ports can keep easing their traffic jams.