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A Coast Guard Station Milford Haven 29-foot Response Boat-Small boat crew assesses the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, March 29, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

A Coast Guard Station Milford Haven 29-foot Response Boat-Small boat crew assesses the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland, March 29, 2024. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Container Shipping Rates Unaffected by Baltimore Key Bridge Collapse, Xeneta Says

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1393
April 8, 2024

The recent collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore has not led to an increase in ocean freight container shipping rates, according to ocean freight rate benchmarking firm Xeneta.

Xeneta’s data shows that, contrary to expectations, the average spot rates from the Far East to the US North East Coast, including Baltimore, have actually experienced a slight decrease of 1% since the bridge collapse on March 26. The current rate stands at USD 5421 per FEU (40ft shipping container).

This trend holds for other US East Coast ports such as New York / New Jersey, with rates from the Far East having decreased by 3% during the same period. The dip in shipping rates is even more pronounced from North Europe to the US North East Coast, with an 8% decrease, and a 4% decrease when including other US East Coast ports.

“Spot rates have not reacted but that doesn’t mean shippers with cargo heading to Baltimore are not affected – on the contrary they are seeing containers arriving at ports they were not expecting,” said Peter Sand, Xeneta Chief Analyst.

Sand explains that rates are likely not increasing because the majority of diverted containers are being handled at New York and New Jersey, where many of the ships originally bound for Baltimore would have been stopping anyway.

“Ocean freight container shipping rates may not have increased following the bridge collapse, but this incident is yet another problem for shippers to handle on top of all the other disruptions impacting supply chains at the moment, including the ongoing diversions in the Red Sea region and drought in the Panama Canal,” Sand said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working towards opening a 280-feet wide and 35-feet deep federal navigation channel by the end of April, followed by a reopening of the permanent 700-feet wide and 50-feet deep channel by the end of May, restoring normal navigation in and out of the Port of Baltimore.

However, Sand warns of further disruptions in 2024 due to labor negotiations. The six-year contract of the International Longshoremen’s Association with the United States Maritime Alliance, which represents port terminal operators and ocean carriers on the East Coast, expires at the end of September. Without a new agreement, the risk of labor strikes looms large and could lead to significant disruptions at US East Coast ports, potentially causing shipping rates to surge.

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