The transformation in scale has hugely improved the efficiency of container transport, allowing shjppjng lines to reduce the number of sailings while carrying the same cargo or more. Two vessels like the Cosco Development can carry the same cargo as three the size of the Xin Ou Zhou. Shipping lines have formed new,bigger alliances to make the most efficient possible use of the new vessels. Lines carry other alliance members' cargo on their own vessels. But the change has also over the past few months often left the container stacking areas along the quays in Los Angeles and Long Beach full to overflowing. Terminals have struggled to handle the volumes of containers during the traditional August to December peak shipping season. Up to 18 vessels have sometimes been left waiting outside the twin ports, which together handled 41 per cent of US container traffic in 2013. Terminal operators, port authorities, shipping lines and railroads are working together to try to resolve the congestion crisis, the worst at US ports since 2004. Similar problems, but on a smaller scale, have also affected other big container terminals on the Pacific Coast, including Seattle and Oakland. Mark Simon, assistant vice-president for the international container business of Union Pacific operator of the US' biggest rail network, says that before the arrival of the bigger ships, vessels would discharge cargo at different terminals around the port in far smaller quantities. Instead of 5,000 TEUs coming off a ship, you now have 10,000 TEUs . . . In some cases, there are 13,000 TEU ships calling - Mark Simon, Union Pacific "Instead of 5,000 TEUs coming off a ship, you now have 10,000 TEUs," he says. "In some cases, there are 13,000 TEU ships calling." Efforts to resolve the issues are being made amid a simmering industrial dispute that employers blame for creating or exacerbating problems. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — the dockers' union at all the coast's ports — have been working since July without a contract . The two sides have held periodic talks aimed at reaching a new deal but have so far failed. The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the employers, acknowledges that operational issues have led to some of the problems at LA and Long Beach. But it blames unofficial go-slows by the ILWU for many of the problems at the twin ports and all at other west coast facilities. The ILWU insists the problems result from the ports' operational flaws. Neil Davidson, ports analyst at London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants, says it is unclear how far union action is to blame for the disruption. But he says: "There are certainly some deeper issues that have to be addressed even after the contract is agreed." P a g e
8 1 One relates to a decision by terminal operators this year to stop providing truckers with the chassis on which they haul containers to and from ports. The lack of alternative sources created a shortage.
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- Fall '13
- Containerization, COSCO, COSCO container Lines, China COSCO, COSCO Holdings, cosco group