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A look at the immediate impacts of the Baltimore port closure

April 8, 2024

The recent closure of the Port of Baltimore has prompted a significant redirection of cargo to alternative ports along the Eastern seaboard. At OpenTrack, we track freight at the container level, so we’re examining the fate of containers that were originally destined for Baltimore and tracing their journey through these alternate paths to their final destinations. We’re also examining the impact of these diversions on performance at these alternate ports. This granular view allows us to answer questions like:

  • Where is the cargo being diverted?
  • How are these diversions affecting the cargo’s ETA?
  • What is the relative dwell time of diverted cargo vs the port average?
  • What is the relative amount of demurrage incurred by diverted cargo vs port average?
  • How do the diversions affect Port Performance?

We’ll answer part of these questions here and keep tabs on the rest as the situation develops.

Where is Baltimore cargo being diverted?

Terminals in New York, New Jersey, and Virginia are among those bracing for an influx of containers originally destined for Baltimore. As of April 3, 2024, here are the ports and terminals where cargo is being diverted:

Proportion of diverted cargo by new discharge port

Proportion of diverted cargo by new discharge terminal

This heightened traffic could potentially lead to extended dwell times and operational challenges as the port adjusts to the influx of diverted cargo.

How are these diversions affecting the cargo’s ETA?

According to OpenTrack data, cargo diverted to Virginia will experience a near-term spike in delays as the port adjusts to increased freight. It’s a different story in New York and New Jersey, where the share of diverted cargo appears to grow over time, leading to more potential delays in late April and early May.

The average delay of diverted cargo to USORF vs USNYC over the next month

The relative share of USORF vs USNYC diversions per week over the next month

The diverted cargo will certainly impact drayage providers as well. According to Nathan Halberstam, founder and CEO of New Jersey-based Bound Logistics, this is the first time since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic that his company has needed more yard space to handle the extra volume, after experiencing a 56% increase in containers that had been diverted from Baltimore.

“We’re definitely seeing capacity tightening up in New Jersey,” Halberstam said. “It’s not like where it was before the incident where you could call up a trucker and get it done the same day.”

We’ll be monitoring the situation as it unfolds.  As we start seeing the trends in dwell time, demurrage and overall port performance, we’ll be following up with more information. 

In the meantime, we’re making free, daily updates to Port Performance, allowing logistics professionals to understand dwell time trends at East Coast terminals so they can optimize product flows, anticipate delays, and identify opportunities to improve operations amid the shutdown.

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