Join our crew and become one of the 105,461 members that receive our newsletter.

Container ships wait off the coast of the congested Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Long Beach, California

Container ships wait off the coast of the congested Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in Long Beach, California, U.S., October 1, 2021. REUTERS/ Alan Devall

Fewer Containerships in U.S. Waters Reveals Trade Slowdown

Total Views: 4786
March 13, 2023

By Kevin Varley (Bloomberg) —

The number of container ships in US coastal waters has fallen to less than half of the count a year earlier, in the latest ominous sign of slowing global trade.

There were 106 container ships both in port and off the coastline late Sunday, compared with 218 at this time last year, a 51% drop according to vessel data analyzed by Bloomberg. 

Data from IHS Markit showed that the weekly count of port calls in US waters through March 4 had slowed to 1,105 from 1,906 the year prior. That’s the lowest level since mid-September 2020.

Bad weather may be partly to blame. More broadly, a slowdown in global consumer demand — driven by weaker economic growth and higher inflation — is translating into fewer vessels needed for shipping goods from Asia’s top manufacturing hubs to the US and Europe. 

Ships in the port of New York/New Jersey, currently facing an incoming winter storm, fell to just three as of late Sunday, compared with a two-year median of 10. There were 15 vessels in the West Coast shipping hub of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which normally sees a median of 25 ships.

Meanwhile, idled container vessel capacity in February was near the highest level since August 2020, according to maritime consultant Drewry.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

Unlock Exclusive Insights Today!

Join the gCaptain Club for curated content, insider opinions, and vibrant community discussions.

Sign Up
Back to Main
polygon icon polygon icon

Why Join the gCaptain Club?

Access exclusive insights, engage in vibrant discussions, and gain perspectives from our CEO.

Sign Up


Maritime and offshore news trusted by our 105,461 members delivered daily straight to your inbox.

gCaptain’s full coverage of the maritime shipping industry, including containerships, tankers, dry bulk, LNG, breakbulk and more.