Shipping Firms Warn of U.S. Strike Impact

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday December 21, 2012

Shipping companies are warning that a possible strike at the U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports would have a major impact on the nation’s economy, business news outlet CNBC reports.

"Cargo will have to be redirected to other ports on the east coast or even via west coast by train,” said Gerry Wang, CEO of Seaspan Corporation [NYSE: SSW]

“If the strike is perceived long term, the shipping lines will change their service routes to avoid the port call."

Robert Kunkel, president of Alternative Marine Technologies and technical adviser for Mid Ocean Tanker Company and Alternative Capital Partners, said the ports, particularly those in New York and New Jersey, handle much of the goods imported from Europe and South America.

“In 2011, the New York-New Jersey ports handled $208 billion in cargo- the most on the East Coast,” he said.

Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy for the National Retail Federation, said the affect on retailers would be significant, both because of delays and due to charges levied by shipping companies.

“The ocean carriers will charge a $1,000 congestion fee per container for every day they are at sea,” he said.

“This extra charge will hit their bottom line.”

Talks between the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) broke down Tuesday, and no new talks are scheduled.

Retail industry leaders are calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to step in to prevent 14,500 workers at the 15 ports from walking off the job on December 30, 2012.