How Crises Like the Suez Canal Blockage and COVID-19 Impact Ocean Freight Shipping

Jun 14, 2021

How Crises Impact Ocean Freight Shipping

Ocean freight shipping is an ideal transportation solution for clients with large cargo loads. Under regular circumstances, clients can select the best-suited and most cost-effective steamship options based on specific requirements, including time sensitivity. However, in times of crisis like the Suez Canal blockage and the COVID-19 pandemic, delays can occur that affect the entire global supply chain.

The Suez Canal Blockage

On March 23rd, 2021, the Suez Canal made global headlines when the Ever Given, a ship owned by the Taiwanese transport company Evergreen Marine, became lodged sideways in the canal for six days. The passage enables more direct shipping between Europe and Asia, making it a popular trade route for fast cargo transportation. 367 other vessels were waiting behind the Ever Given, taking weeks to clear. The impact of the blockage extended beyond the Egyptian economy and Evergreen Marine. It affected many retailers, supermarkets, and manufacturers. The jam cost nearly $10 billion in global trade each day the vessel was stuck and resulted in long transportation delays.

COVID-19’s Impact on Ocean Freight Shipping 

Though the Suez Canal blockage is an extreme example of unexpected cargo delays, shipping industries are experiencing ongoing challenges due to COVID-19. In January, nearly 700 dockworkers in Los Angeles and Long Beach tested positive for the virus. In total, 1800 people were isolated while waiting for their test results. While outbreaks have caused labour shortages, the demand for retail goods has only increased, resulting in more cargo than dockyards have the manpower to load.

More recently, COVID-19 outbreaks in Southern China have caused delays and shipping congestions around several ports, including the Yantian International Container Terminal, which is one of the largest container terminals in the world. The terminal was forced to operate at 30% capacity for five days, resulting in as many as 40 container ships anchored in open water outside of the terminal. The port congestion exceeded losses from the Suez Canal, and experts suggest it will only be a matter of weeks before the ripple effects reach supply chains along the West Coast of North America.

The Role of a Freight Forwarding Company 

The role of a freight forwarding company is to ensure clients receive the most strategic, cost-effective shipping solution. In dire circumstances like route blockages and labour shortages, clients can look to freight companies for updates on the status of their shipments.

At Transmodal, we offer personalized logistics and take a hands-on approach to handling your ocean freight shipping needs. Should your cargo be delayed, you’ll receive frequent updates from us so you can remain informed on where your shipments are and how long it will take for your goods to reach their final destination.

Contact us today to get started on a personalized ocean freight shipping solution.

Transmodal Group is a worldwide, fully bonded non-vessel operating common carrier and a Federal Maritime Commission accredited and licensed organization that offers full-service solutions for ocean freight, air freight, door delivery, cross-border trucking, door delivery, and distribution.

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