Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for August 10 through August 14, 2015:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Port of Oakland stakeholders pledge to get cargo moving

Port of Oakland officials are planning to move cargo more efficiently at the port, and said it got expert guidance this week to implement the plan. A 30-member task force met to prioritize efficiency measures and make plans to launch them.

The group of shipping lines, marine terminal operators, cargo owners, harbor truckers and dockworkers decided they need:

  • An end to vessel backlogs that force some ships to temporarily anchor in San Francisco Bay instead of berthing

  • Enough dockworkers, marine clerks and equipment to efficiently manage high volumes of container cargo

  • Extended hours and an appointment system to help harbor truckers get cargo in and out of Oakland quickly

"What we needed was the collaborative ideas of our stakeholders," said Executive Director Chris Lytle. "Now we've got them and we're eager to get going."

Port officials told the task force that a two-month old labor shortage is already being addressed. About 150 dockworkers and 30 marine clerks are joining the workforce over the next two months.

The port is making significant progress in clearing out a backlog of delayed ships that developed during the labor shortage, according to the statement. Only five vessels were reported at anchor or outside the Golden Gate today awaiting berths this week — down from a high of 13 vessels a week ago.

Next on the port's list of initiatives is extended terminal hours. A proposal for permanent Saturday operations is under review with the Federal Maritime Commission, the statement said. The plan would lengthen the workweek to six days in Oakland, easing congestion during peak weekday periods.

The port says it's also finalizing plans with equipment providers to make sure any chassis can be used by any trucker.

Task force members said they would meet regularly - monthly or quarterly - to ensure the Oakland port efficiency measures move forward.

XPO Logistics revenue doubles after buying French logistics firm

XPO Logistics’ quarterly revenue doubled, bolstered by its acquisition of France-based Norbert Dentressangle and a boost in trucking capacity in the U.S.

The company, which is on track to hit revenue of $9.5 billion this year, said it is targeting about $23 billion in revenue by 2019.

XPO, a broker between shippers and freight companies, is benefiting from a rise in the number of trucks available to transport goods, especially given chronic bottlenecks on rail networks.

"It's a good time to be a broker if you've got committed freight because your customers are locked in at a specific contractual price," Chief Executive Bradley Jacobs told Reuters.

The company said revenue from its transportation business, which includes truck brokerage, truckload and less than truckload, jumped 48 percent to $861.2 million in the second quarter ended June 30.

The acquisition of Norbert Dentressangle - XPO's biggest-ever deal - was the primary driver of transportation revenue with just 22 days' contribution in the quarter, the company said.

XPO, whose customers include Macy's, ConAgra Foods and Dean Foods, said it was scouting for more acquisitions.

Revenue jumped to $1.22 billion from $581 million in the second quarter.

For more of the Reuters story:

Maersk, CMA CGM weigh in on new Suez Canal addition

In honor of the newly added Suez Canal channel, Egyptian authorities declared last Thursday a national holiday, suspended fees for public transport and posted a sermon to be delivered in mosques on Friday that declares that "all Egyptians, here and abroad, must support this giant project."

The canal's biggest customer, Maersk Line, said that while the expansion would bring savings of fuel costs. By using larger vessels, it would not send more ships through the canal in 2015.

"Last year we put 1,400 ships through the canal. We will put roughly the same number through this year," said Mohammad Shihab, managing director of Maersk Line Egypt.

The new canal "will not change much overnight," said Nicholas Sartini, a senior vice president for the French CMA CGM Group, the world's third-largest shipping group, which sends an average of two vessels per day through the canal.

Egypt is investing for the longer term to have a larger canal that can accommodate increasingly larger ships, he said.

For more of the Reuters story:

Genco Shipping takes delivery of ultramax newbuild

Genco Shipping & Trading Limited announced it has taken delivery of the Baltic Scorpion, a new 64,000-dwt Ultramax vessel. The Baltic Scorpion is the third of four Ultramax vessels to be delivered under Baltic Trading's agreements with Yangfan Group.

The Baltic Scorpion will be delivered to its charterer, Swissmarine Asia on August 8, Genco said, to function as a spot market-related time charter for 14 to 18.5 months. The rate for the spot market-related time charter will be based on 115.5 percent of the average of the daily rates of the Baltic Supramax Index, published by the Baltic Exchange.

To pay the remaining balance of $19.6 million for the Baltic Scorpion, Genco used available cash as well as $16.5 million under its $33 million term loan facility, which was part of the $148 million senior secured credit facility that Baltic Trading entered into on January 7, 2015.

Genco Shipping & Trading Limited transports iron ore, coal, grain, steel products and other drybulk cargoes along worldwide shipping routes.

UASC settles shipping violations with FMC

U.S. Federal Maritime Commission announced it has completed compromise agreements with Dubai-based United Arab Shipping Company and six non-vessel-operating common carriers for alleged violations of the U.S. Shipping Act and FMC’s regulations, recovering a total of $1,227,500 in civil penalties.

The parties settled and agreed to penalties, but did not admit to any violations. Under the terms of the compromise, UASC paid $537,500 to FMC.

UASC allegedly illegally rebated to its NVOCC customer, Falcon Maritime and Aviation, a portion of the applicable service contract rate in the form of an administrative fee not identified in the service contract, and for which no services were provided. UASC also allegedly provided transportation not in accordance with the rates and charges in its published tariff.

"The compromise agreements demonstrate how serious we are about protecting the international shipping marketplace from fraud and threats to cargo security, and in our commitment to shield the many lawful participants in international trade from commercial deception and other unlawful trading practices," said FMC Chairman Mario Cordero in the statement.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Capitol Watch: Senate DRIVES forward but House response lackluster

By Anna Denecke, Associate, Blakey & Agnew, LLC

For a brief moment this summer, it seemed like Congress was set to buck expectations and pass a long-term surface transportation bill. On June 24, the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee unanimously reported their six-year highway bill out of committee. Just a few weeks later, the Senate Commerce Committee favorably reported their safety and multimodal transportation bill, another necessary part of any comprehensive surface transportation proposal.

Shortly thereafter, the EPW and Commerce titles, along with transit provisions and a Finance Committee funding package, were combined and shepherded to the Senate floor. On July 30, after more than a week of deliberations, the Senate voted 65-34 to pass the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act.

The rapid-fire action by the Senate is a huge step towards finally passing a long-term surface transportation bill. Furthermore, the DRIVE Act is not the recycled policy and static spending caps of the past. Instead, the bill includes streamlining provisions and increased funding levels aimed at modernizing our surface transportation programs.

Freight interests, in particular, have much to celebrate in the DRIVE Act. The bill includes new freight-focused competitive grant programs, the Assistance for Major Projects and the Assistance for Freight Projects programs. These strategic investment campaigns can stand up projects that are large-in-scale, cross multiple jurisdictions, and oftentimes have difficulty securing funds through traditional methods. The bill also creates a freight formula program, to ensure states have resources to support commerce in their regions, and requires the U.S. Department of Transportation incorporate all modes into transportation policy and planning – not just highways, as MAP-21 did.

For all of its improvements, in the eyes of many members of the House, the DRIVE Act had a major flaw: the funding package to support the bill is cobbled-together and incomplete. The Senate legislation provides $350 billion in contract authority, according to the latest available data from the Congressional Budget Office. However, in a break with tradition, the six year bill only contains three years of funding – the Senate’s answer to the difficult problem of declining Highway Trust Fund revenue and a hesitancy to raise fuel taxes.

While some revenues can be expected from existing federal gas and diesel taxes, the rest must be transferred to the Highway Trust Fund from other sources, such as the General Fund. Transfers from the General Fund require offsets elsewhere in the budget, and the Senate Finance Committee could only settle on three years’ worth of offsets, leaving the problem of how to pay for the second half of the bill up to a future Congress.

For awhile, many hoped the House might also act quickly on a long-term bill, either by passing the DRIVE Act in full, or by making changes and sending legislation to conference. But by late July, it was obvious the lower chamber had other plans. POLITICO reported on July 29 that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), referring primarily to the funding package, described the Senate’s DRIVE Act as a "piece of sh--." Sure enough, the House adjourned for a five-week August recess, as scheduled, the same afternoon the Senate passed the bill.

The cold water thrown by the House onto the DRIVE Act means the future of the Senate bill is uncertain. When it became apparent the legislation had legs, the House, which had already passed a year-end MAP-21 extension, plotted a new course. On July 28, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced a different short-term extension, this one prolonging the current surface transportation bill until October 29.

The House now has until the end of October to come up with an answer to the DRIVE Act, and possibly settle on a revenue source for a long-term bill, or risk taking the blame for Congressional inaction on surface transportation.

Blakey & Agnew, LLC is a public affairs and communications consulting firm based in Washington, DC.

COSCO and China Shipping in merger talks

China Ocean Shipping Group and China Shipping Group are planning a merger, in what could be a very complex consolidation process.

Last week, Beijing ordered the two giant state shipping lines struggling in a protracted industry slump to come up with a plan to merge, according to the South China Morning Post.

China’s two largest shipping and logistics conglomerates together control 11 listed entities in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Singapore.

China Cosco Holdings, China Shipping Development and China Shipping Container Lines, the three dually listed flagships, applied for a trading halt after the market close on Friday. They told the Shanghai bourse that they were planning on "material matters."

Their share prices shot up between 10 and 24 percent on rumors of a merger.

For more of the South China Morning Post story:

Hanjin swings to profit in Q2

Hanjin Shipping said Friday that it swung to a profit in the second quarter of this year amid improved profitability.

Net profit came to $89.3 million during the April-June period on a consolidated basis, a sharp turnaround from a loss of 199.77 billion won a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Second-quarter sales dropped 6.29 percent on-year to $1.7 million, but its operating profit more than doubled to $51million from a year earlier.

For more of the Korea Observer story:

Daewoo Shipbuilding to restructure after $2.6B loss in Q2

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering of South Korea said it would sell non-core assets, and shut down non-essential units as part of restructuring after a multi-billion dollar loss in the April-June quarter.

Late last month the shipbuilder reported a provisional second-quarter operating loss of $2.61 billion, citing construction delays on offshore projects such as oil and gas rigs.

The high-end offshore plant business has been losing money for the planet’s three largest shipyards, which are all in South Korea, because offshore floating production facilities for oil and gas are often complicated, one-of-a-kind designs that can lead to unforeseen construction delays, analysts say.

Daewoo Shipbuilding said it would sell the company headquarters in Seoul, and sell units that are unrelated to its core shipbuilding or offshore plant businesses. Its non-core businesses accounted for about 10 percent of the company's revenue in 2014.

There was however no plan to cut staff at present, a company spokesman said.

For more of the Reuters story:

Italian customs finds cocaine worth $11M in frozen squid container

Italian customs police have seized 108 pounds of pure cocaine hidden in a container transporting frozen totani, a kind of flying squid, on a cargo ship from Argentina.

Prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho said Monday that the cocaine, if sold on the street, would have raked in more than 10 million euros ($11 million).

The cocaine was discovered in Gioia Tauro, a port considered largely under the control of the 'ndrangheta crime syndicate. Investigators say the Calabria-based 'ndrangheta is by far the biggest trafficker of cocaine in Europe.

No arrests were immediately announced Monday in connection with the seizure.

For more of the Latin Post story:


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fitch Ratings: Advent of large ships may leave smaller ports behind

The rise of alliances of container lines as the industry moves towards post-Panamax and ultra-large cargo ships is pressuring many U.S. ports to address access limitations. The widening of the Panama Canal, slotted to open in 2016, will intensify the need to accommodate larger ships, and some regional ports that serve secondary markets and can’t process larger vessels risk losing future business, Fitch Ratings says.

The combined impact of the shift to larger vessels and carrier alliances is giving shippers significant negotiating leverage over ports, Fitch reports. Carriers are seeking higher utilization of each vessel, which can result in fewer vessel calls. And larger vessels can limit an individual carrier's dependence on any particular port/terminal. This has led to a reduction in the number of ports called per each voyage, giving ports the motivation to improve terminal capability and productivity.

Some ports that already have adequate water depth are investing to improve the efficiency of terminal facilities, seeking to increase their share of first call services, according to the Fitch Ratings statement. Trends towards consolidating services could leave smaller regional ports at risk of losing some services or being skipped completely by carriers.

At the Port of Portland, a project to deepen the 110-mile Columbia River navigation channel from 40 feet to 43 feet was completed in 2010, but was insufficient to accommodate larger ships needing a 50-foot clearance. Later labor disagreements further interrupted service at the port for long enough that carriers decided to halt container services there, transferring cargo to other ports.

Seven U.S. ports (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Seattle, Tacoma, Oakland, Norfolk, and Baltimore) have been able to handle post-Panamax ships. Due to subsequent projects to deepen channels and remove air draught restrictions, the ports of Miami, New York/New Jersey, and Houston will join the post-Panamax accommodators. Most improvements by these ports and others (Jacksonville, Savannah, Charleston) will bring water depth to the 50-foot range, allowing access for the larger vessels favored by alliances. However, choosing to upgrade infrastructure may be a difficult management decision for some ports, as capital costs are likely to require borrowing while returns from potential new services remain questionable for all but top tier ports.

The impact of changes in depth and other terminal improvements must be considered together with the relative importance of the port as a gateway to its region, Fitch advises. As shippers seek consolidated service, a port with adequate infrastructure may still fall victim to competitive pressure should its market be one that can be efficiently served from a neighboring port. Fitch concludes ports with the right combination of location and infrastructure are best positioned to benefit from volume and revenue growth going forward.

Orient Overseas profits up more than 30 percent in first half

Orient Overseas International Limited reported that its first-half net profit jumped nearly a third as cheaper fuel costs helped it ride out a slump in freight rates.

Net profit of OOIL, the holding company of Orient Overseas Container Line, rose 32 percent year on year to $238.6 million even though revenue declined 6 percent to $3 billion as overcapacity and weak demand continued to plague the container shipping industry.

"The volatility of freight rates indicates how competitive the industry is. The theme of the industry this year is carriers’ efforts in cost-efficiency and yield management amid a weak market," said acting chief financial officer Alan Tung Lieh-sing.

OOCL saw total cost per-TEU drop 9 percent in the first six months of the year, achieved mainly through a 38 percent reduction in bunker costs. The savings also boosted the company’s bottom line despite lower vessel use and revenue.

For more of the South China Morning Post story:

Panama Canal makes statement regarding potential strike action

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) issued a statement relating to possible strike action.

The ACP said it is aware that the National Union of Workers of Construction and Similar Industries (SUNTRACS) has issued a notice to strike to Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the main contractor for the canal's third set of locks project, which is currently 93 percent complete.

The statement says the authority has encouraged both sides to reach an agreement on matters that, by law, only pertain to dealings between GUPC and SUNTRACS members. ACP, although the owner of the project, says it is not responsible for labor issues arising from any failure on the part of GUPC to meet labor demands by its subcontractors.

ACP said it "is deeply concerned about the situation and is following closely the developments on the matter as its business may be impacted directly if the work is not carried out efficiently and promptly to deliver the project on time. We look forward to the prompt resolution of this impasse by GUPC and SUNTRACS and will be sure to update all relevant parties as the situation develops."

Maersk changes service at Port of Houston

Maersk Line will be making changes to services at the Port of Houston including the MECL service connecting Houston to the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Mediterranean and the West Coast of Africa, according to a port statement.

Effective August 20th, 2015, all MECL services currently stopping at Barbour’s Cut Terminal will move to Bayport terminal in Houston, under Port Authority of Houston management. The change will start with the Maersk Detroit, voyage number 1509, departing Houston Bayport Terminal on the effective date.

Weekly sailings of the MECL service will now feature Norfolk as an import destination on the westbound rotation, and will offer a faster transit time to the U.A.E. and Pakistan from the U.S. East Coast. These changes will take effect on August 17th, 2015.

Oil tanker found empty near Indonesia

A ship with 3,500 metric tons of marine fuel oil that was reported missing Saturday in the Malacca Strait off Malaysia, has been found in Indonesian waters without its cargo, according to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The 10 crewmembers of the Singapore-registered tanker MT Joaquim, which had been on its way to Langkawi, Malaysia, from Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia, were released by a group of hijackers on Sunday, the agency said in a statement on Sunday.

The ship was found near Indonesia's Rupat Island with its cargo missing, said the agency's deputy director general of operations and Maritime Vice-Admiral, Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar.

For more of the Reuters story:


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Vast areas of Tianjin port destroyed in fatal explosions

Photo credit: Reuters

More than 50 people were killed and 700 injured Wednesday in two huge explosions in the warehouse district near the Chinese port of Tianjin, the tenth largest container port in the world. The blasts rocked an industrial area close to the port where toxic chemicals and gas were stored.

The death toll keeps rising, according to media reports, and the official Xinhua news agency said the two fires were still burning.

Vast areas of the port were devastated, crumpled shipping containers were thrown around like match sticks, hundreds of new cars were torched and port buildings left as burnt-out shells, according to Reuters witnesses.

The deadly explosions have disrupted chemical and oil tankers going in and coming out of the port, trading and shipping sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Tianjin authorities said 12 firefighters were among those killed.

The cause of the blasts was being investigated but Xinhua said several containers caught fire beforehand.

Reuters reported a warehouse owned by Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics was the site of the explosions that were so large, they were seen by satellites in space.

For an array of Reuters photos:

For more of the Reuters stories:  |

The "big ship/rate volatility" conundrum

By William DiBenedetto, CBN Feature Editor

It doesn’t seem to add up to a viable, profit-making business plan: buy huge containerships and then go about trying to raise rates on the most important trade routes.

Apparently making that equation work involves withholding space on some trade routes to bolster rates, but it all adds up to extreme rate volatility.

According to Olaf Merk, ports and shipping administrator of the International Transport Forum (ITF), the time is quickly approaching when it won’t make much sense to build mega-ships. Merk said the shipping industry is close to reaching the point of optimal ship size. Carriers are already having difficulty filling their existing huge vessels; they have a capacity oversupply of about 20-30 percent, he noted. Increasing ship capacity from 19,000 TEUs to 24,000 TEUs would only cut costs by five percent, which he said was relatively marginal. He was quoted in a Singapore Business Times report.

ITF is a unit of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Its much-discussed report, which was a focus of a recent OECD ministerial meeting in Leipzig, contends that mega ships generate minimal savings, while putting huge pressures on ports to keep up with infrastructure and equipment upgrades to avoid congestion.

Not so, says Maersk Line, which continues to order mega-containerships at a startling pace—most recently a $1.8 billion order with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering for 11 19,630-TEU vessels with an option for six more. Maersk Line Vice President Amdi Krogh, along with the World Shipping Council, counter that the OECD estimates are off.

In a Shipping Watch interview, Krogh asserted, "When we look at our own numbers and calculations of the savings, we have numbers that are somewhat bigger than the results from OECD. The difference in savings on a twenty-foot container on a new mega-vessel and an older 14,000-TEU container ship can reach up to $500 in our calculations, which is somewhat higher than at OECD. So here, there is no doubt that the large ships provide real savings and are more cost efficient than the older generations of vessels." Maersk is following the growth in volumes, he said.

The World Shipping Council agreed. "Given the competitive nature of the business and constant pressure on rates, carriers will continue to use the most efficient ships available for a given trade lane, meaning that vessels will continue to get larger," the WSC said. Fuel prices and increasing environmental regulations have imposed higher costs on the industry that can only be addressed through the efficiencies brought about by using larger vessels, the council added.

But Drewry Maritime Research, after looking at looking at shrinking box demand, says mega-vessels have failed to produce improved economies for owners as promised. "Ordering ships that take years to build is always a gamble but, as things stand, the roulette wheel has landed on red when all put their chips on black," Drewry noted. While the rush to build the biggest containerships might eventually pay off, so far the gamble "has backfired and carriers are faced with overcapacity in Asia-Europe, making it very difficult to see how rates will become sustainable," Drewry said.

The large number of containerships due to be deployed on the Asia-Europe routes in the short to medium term exacerbates the problem and is "posing a huge risk to carriers in a slowing market," Drewry concluded.

Speaking of rates, spot rates on the Asia-Europe trade recently fell to incredible lows, levels so low that carriers cannot even cover their fuel costs, according to the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index. Trans-Pacific rates have also slumped to their lowest levels in years.

General rate increases recently announced by carriers have as little chance of sticking as previous ones, Drewry director of container research Neil Dekker told Containerization International.

There’s another part of the mega-ship/rate equation, according to Drewry: "The introduction of ever larger ships into a market that is already over-supplied has had the effect of increasing rate volatility. The reason is that not only does the upscaling of vessels increase the capacity deployed but also there is the individual carrier behavior, especially with this first wave of record ships, where shipping lines don’t want to have the ship sail half empty on its maiden voyage."

U.S. crane company Terex merges with Finland’s Konecranes

U.S. cranes and mining equipment maker Terex and Finnish competitor Konecranes have agreed an all-share merger, betting a combined $10 billion in annual revenues will help them mitigate cooling Chinese and weak European demand.

Terex shareholders will own 60 percent of the merged company, to be called Konecranes Terex, with Konecranes' investors owning the rest, the companies said on Tuesday.

Terex makes cranes and equipment for miners and builders, while Konecranes is more focused on cranes for factories, shipyards and ports.

Analysts said the union is expected to produce cost savings and cross-selling opportunities and help both firms weather tepid industrial investment and growing competition.

"It seems to make a lot of sense," said Kristian Tammela of Nordic financial services group Nordea. "The whole sector is very fragmented and it is now challenged by weakness in China and Europe ... Both companies will win when synergies materialize and (product) offerings expand."

Konecranes shares increased up to 25 percent to a record high of 34.98 euros.

Terex's rivals include U.S. group Caterpillar and Finland's Metso, while Konecranes' more specialist competitors include Japan's Kito, China's ZPMC and U.S. firm Columbus McKinnon.

Based on Monday's closing prices, a merger between the two would have a market capitalization of $4.3 billion.

For more of the Reuters story:

Evergreen Marine orders 10 new container ships

Evergreen Marine announced it has inked a deal with Taiwanese ship builder CSBC for 10 new ships.

Delivery of the 10 new vessels will start in the second half of 2017 and will likely be completed in the first half of 2018. Each ship will have a capacity of 2,800 TEUs and be used for the container line’s intra-Asian shipping operations.

Evergreen said that the company remains upbeat about trade in the region at a time when talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which aims to tear down tariff barriers in the region, are ongoing.

The carrier said that the new vessels, which will be categorized as B-Type vessels in the Evergreen Marine fleet, would be 211 meters in length and 32.8 meters wide, with a design draft of 10 meters, which will allow them to dock in relatively small and shallow terminals located in many Southeast Asian ports.

In addition to cargo shipping in the region, Evergreen will assign the new vessels to serve as feeder ships, which will carry cargo to larger ports.

For more of the WantChinaTimes story:

NRF: August imports up 3.6 percent as retailers stock up for holidays

Import cargo volume at key U.S. retail container ports is forecast to increase 3.6 percent this month year-over-year, as retailers start to bring in goods for the holiday season, according to the latest issue of Global Port Tracker from the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Imports for the year are expected to be up 4.2 percent compared to 2014.

"Consumers might be out buying back-to-school supplies but toys and sweaters are starting to show up on the docks," said Jonathan Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. "There are still some lingering congestion issues but retailers are working with their supply chain partners to make sure all of that merchandise flows smoothly to store shelves."

Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.57 million TEUs in June, the latest month for which hard numbers are available. That was down 2.5 percent from May but up 6.2 percent from June 2014.

July was estimated at 1.59 million TEUs, up 6 percent from 2014. August is forecast to be up 3.6 percent at 1.57 million TEU, September down 0.1 percent at 1.59 million TEUs, October up 1.2 percent at 1.58 million TEUs, November up 4.5 percent at 1.45 million TEUs, and December down 2.8 percent at 1.4 million TEUs.

Those numbers would bring 2015 to a total of 18 million TEU, up 4.2 percent from last year.

Some retailers are paying less to transport their merchandise this year, thanks to the use bigger ships by ocean carriers. Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett said the increased capacity has driven down rates, but the relief could be short-lived because some lines have already canceled voyages to counteract the trend.

"We are seeing complete chaos on the high seas in terms of the amount of capacity available and the level of spot freight rates," Hackett said. "One has to wonder why carriers cannot match supply to demand. The end result will likely be a highly volatile situation of freight rates moving up and down."

Global Port Tracker covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle/Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, Miami and Houston on the Gulf Coast.

NY Coast Guard searches for missing crewmember

The Coast Guard in New York has initiated an air and water search for a container ship worker who was reported missing Tuesday morning.

The crewmember was last seen 11 p.m. Monday as the ship was passing the Bayonne Bridge, authorities said. He didn’t report to work Tuesday morning, and after a complete search of the ship, the Coast Guard was contacted.

The crew worries the worker may have fallen off the ship, the Coast Guard said. The Coast Guard is searching an area of 60 nautical miles from the New York Harbor to Ocean City, New Jersey.

The container ship was leaving Port Newark and headed to a southern port.

For more of the NBC New York story:


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