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Lack of 24/7 port operations in US highlighted by FMC Commissioner

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The lack of 24-hour operations at US ports has been highlighted by FMC Commissioner Michael Khouri as the country’s terminals struggle with unprecedented congestion.

Congestion at US west coast ports has hit the mainstream media headlines in recent months and according to industry executives a normal five-week transpacific loop between Asia and the US can now take a container vessel nine weeks wreaking havoc on supply chains.

Speaking at the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) annual meeting last week Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) Khouri said that one issue concerning port congestion he wanted “lean into” was operating hours.

Talking to top container line executives on how to improve the situation he said nearly all CEOs had raised the issue of operating hours of terminals US in comparison with other terminals around the world.

The senior executives pointed to the fact that, “When there is serious port congestion at most every port in the world, the ports start operating on a 24/7 weekdays and weekends basis until the congestion is cleared. However, this does not occur in US ports. Major US marine terminals are not open and working every evening, night, and weekend – even in the face of unprecedented congestion.

“This must change. The various marine terminal operators and the respective port authorities need to put their heads together and find solutions. But they cannot fix this on their own. They also need committed cooperation from many other stakeholders and ‘links’ in the supply chain,” Khouri said.

Underscoring the issue of the lack of efficiency of US terminal a new World Bank global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) published at the end of last week did not feature a single US terminal in its top 50 listing.

Khouri said the consequences of failing to address the issue were: “Collectively, our American importers are losing sales with out-of-stock items. Our consumers are facing higher prices for their daily purchases.

“It is a competitive disadvantage for our American exporters who compete on a global basis, and they are suffering the consequences.”

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