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MSC launches first direct US calls from Baltic states

 The trans-Atlantic shipping market is facing headaches due to US and European port congestion that has caused severe vessel delays. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. will launch a new container service from Northern Europe into the US East Coast at the end of March that will include the first direct calls from Baltic ports to the US. The new service comes as schedule reliability has deteriorated on the trans-Atlantic trade lane.

Lithuania’s Klaipeda, Poland’s Gdynia, and Sweden’s Gotheborg were only accessible to US shippers through transshipping via a feeder vessel service to Germany. But MSC said in the statement about the new service that there’s “no transshipment required between load and discharge ports.”

“The Scan Baltic to USA service connects with MSC’s broad European short sea and intermodal networks, opening new opportunities for exporters across the region and enhancing support for the automotive, furniture, and frozen/sea food industries between the ScanBaltic and USA,” MSC said.

Trans-Atlantic delays

“As vessels continue to be tied up in ports around the world — most notably outside of US ports — European schedules have suffered heavily,” Mohawk said in an advisory Monday. “Even as the number of vessels either anchored or slow-steaming outside of Los Angeles has declined, congestion on East Coast ports has worsened.”

As in the US, European ports are metering inbound truck and rail movements due to the high number of containers that are already sitting at marine terminals, Mohawk said, adding that some European trucking companies are shutting down due to the high price of diesel fuel. Moreover, shippers should expect severe shortages of specialty containers, such as reefers and open tops, that are commonly used in the trans-Atlantic trade.

According to Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis, less than 18 percent of vessels on the westbound trans-Atlantic arrived on time in January, the lowest reliability ever recorded on that lane.

AIS Live, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS Markit, showed that as of Wednesday, seven container ships were waiting to berth at Germany’s Hamburg port, with some waits lasting three days. The port of Bremerhaven, where the new MSC service calls, had three container ships at anchor, AIS Live data showed.