It seems that ocean carriers that own or have an interest in port terminals are getting preferentially served by those terminals. It’s what we would expect. But nowadays, it may mean months of delay for other ships, such as chartered vessels.
Should part of the charter for a terminal be some form of ‘common carrier’ commitment? A requirement to unload ships that present in an order defined by some rule?
There has been lots of study of queues with one or multiple servers, and different size unloading jobs presented, with different priority schemes. It’s classic operations management. It should be possible to define a service policy that would be fair to the facility owner and would help to prevent excessive delays for those in the less preferred categories.
For instance, should a ship waiting for three weeks have preference over a recently arrived ship owned by the line that also has a stake in the terminal? I think ocean carriers and terminals have an interest in seeing that the policy for accepting ships for unloading is clear and fair to all who arrive. If it’s clearly stated, then ship owners and charterers can make estimates of when they will be served at the port, and would choose the port over another that had no policy.
The guesswork of choosing a port begins weeks earlier, at sea, or even when loading the ship. While a ship can be diverted en route, it adds mileage to the trip (and time). If port delays are long and unknown, it becomes impossible to make a reasoned decision; ‘Russian roulette’ for the carrier and cargo owners.
By Mike Wackett 24/11/2021Berthing challenge for new transpac carriers arriving on the west coast – The Loadstar