The number of containerships waiting outside of congested ports has risen sharply in recent months, with 20% of all containerships trading globally now stuck in backups, according to maritime data inteligence firm Windward.
Widespread COVID-19 lockdowns in China have heavily impacted congestion outside the country’s ports, with the number of waiting ships nearly doubling since lockdowns first went into place—climbing from 206 in February to 506 in April, according to Windward.
Looking at the global picture, between April 12-13, there were 1,826 containerships waiting outside of ports around the world, representing approximately 20% of the global fleet, Windward data shows. Moreover, with 506 containerships were stuck outside of China’s ports, the number represents nearly 28% of all ships waiting globally. This compares to almost 15% in February.
According to Alphaliner data, the global liner fleet has 6,358 active ships around the world.
Congestion at ports during the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a dramatic rise in freight rates in over past two years, and now China’s latest COVID lockdowns, sparked by the country’s zero-COVID strategy, are now adding even more headwinds to global supply chains as ships are stuck outside ports. Some experts believe there could be bounceback on the horizon once lockdowns are lifted, threatening progress made by some ports, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach, in reducing the backlog of ships in recent months.
In an interview this week, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said COVID lockdowns in China will likey result in a brief lull of vessel arrivals in the coming weeks but a “quick bounce” back.
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