The Ever Given saga seemingly has no end, as ports around the world continue to struggle to clear backlogs of goods from when the ship blocked the Suez Canal for six days back in March.
The blockage put additional strain on a system already struggling under the affects of COVID-19, according to Nikkei Asia:
Since Ever Given’s problems in the Suez Canal late March, container freight rates have surged more than 10% to a new high. This has forced companies to resort to airfreight which is substantially more expensive and rail transportation which is considerably slower. As such, global supply chains are still snarled up.
Spot freight rates for containers bound for the U.S. West Coast from Shanghai have increased to $4,432 per 40-foot container, according to China’s Shanghai Shipping Exchange, or SSE. Those for containers bound for the U.S. East Coast have climbed to $5,452 per 40-foot container. The figures are the highest since survey began in 2009.
Freight rates for containers bound for Europe are $4,187 per 20-foot container, also up more than 10% from the end of March. About 100 ships are still waiting to enter the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Europe’s largest sea port.
There is no end to the congestion in sight yet.
A perfect storm of labor shortages, pent-up demand and reinvigorated manufacturing has pushed container shipping volumes from Asia to the U.S. to historic levels. One expert told Nikkei Asia that the hold ups could last through May. Investment firms took notice and began buying up and building new cargo container shipping vessels. In the first three months of 2021 more new ships were ordered than in the whole of 2020. Of course, it takes years to build such vessels, so they’ll be no help in the short term. Even if there were more ships available, the COVID-19 virus is making it nearly impossible to staff the ports, let alone just the ships currently plying the seas.
The cargo ships held up by the Ever Given were hauling everything from car parts to precious beer, putting wrenchers and their buddies who stand around drinking in the drive way while shouting unhelpful suggestions in jeopardy. The delays are even more dire for the UK. Hopefully, all those sad British gardeners get their gnome-making supplies soon.