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Ocean carriers are declaring “force majeure” due to the Baltimore port bridge crisis, stating that once cargo is dropped off at alternate ports, it becomes the responsibility of logistics companies and U.S. shippers to pick up the containers. This provision frees parties from obligations due to events beyond their control. Maersk is providing transport services for diverted containers, while other carriers like COSCO, Evergreen, and MSC have announced that services will be concluded once containers arrive at the alternate port. Logistics executives are facing challenges in tracking diverted containers, as carriers are not updating information fast enough to allow for proper planning.

The deadly accident involving the containership Dali crashing into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore has led to the diversion of trade away from the Port of Baltimore. The diverted vessels may carry a wide range of products including clothing, household goods, mandarin oranges, IKEA products, and Electrolux products. The impact of the port stoppage on various industries, such as construction and contractor supply chains, is expected to be significant. The urgency of picking up diverted containers has increased as ocean carriers declare “force majeure” on Baltimore-bound containers upon arrival at the diverted port.

To help navigate supply chain slowdowns during crises, the U.S Department of Transportation created a digital platform called Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) for supply chain monitoring. This platform, which includes over 70 participants, provides real-time data analysis on port and inland network congestion and can monitor cargo shifts caused by world events. FLOW participants, such as retailers, railroads, and logistics providers, can use this data to plan for cargo diversion given the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and subsequent port disruptions. While some East Coast ports are included in the FLOW program, export cargo is not yet captured.

Logistics companies are concerned about the availability of chassis for truck and rail services to handle the diverted cargo. Ports like Savannah, Brunswick, Virginia, Charleston, and New York/New Jersey are expected to receive the diverted freight, but the availability of chassis to handle the extra cargo is a concern. Members of the FLOW program are monitoring trends in truck vs. rail bookings coming into impacted ports and are preparing for potential congestion issues. Rail services are expected to return to Baltimore later in the week, but concerns remain about the ability to move outbound export loads.

Logistics managers are working to manage the logistics of diverted containers through data provided by terminals, but challenges remain in terms of planning in advance. The clock starts ticking on free time allocated to a container once it arrives at a terminal, and fees like detention and demurrage are imposed once that free time expires. Companies importing products need to find transportation to move the cargo before late fees are charged. The situation remains fluid as various contingencies are being worked through with customers, and specific advisories are being provided as the matter progresses.шибка.

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