FMC launches investigation into container-related practices at major US ports

The US Federal Maritime Commission has launched an investigation into cargo-related practices that are having a negative impact on congestion and amplifying bottlenecks at the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey.

Port of Los Angeles
Image Courtesy: Port of Los Angeles

On 19 November, the FMC approved a supplemental order that expands the authority of Fact Finding 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement”. The Fact Finding 29 order was issued on 31 March with the primary purpose to identify operational solutions to cargo delivery system challenges related to recent global events.

Specifically, the supplemental order authorizes Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye, as the designated Fact Finding Officer, to investigate ocean carriers operating in alliances and calling the abovementioned ports.

As informed, the investigation will seek to determine if the policies and practices of those shipping companies related to detention and demurrage, container return, and container availability for U.S. export cargoes violate 46 U.S.C. 41102(c).

“The time has come to resolve the most serious impediments to port performance,” Dye commented.

“The Commission has a compelling responsibility to investigate the situations that currently exist in our major port gateways. The Commission is concerned that certain practices of ocean carriers and their marine terminals may be amplifying the negative effect of bottlenecks at these ports and may be contrary to provisions in the Shipping Act of 1984.”

“The potentially unreasonable practices of carriers and marine terminals regarding container return, export containers, and demurrage and detention charges in the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York/New Jersey present a serious risk to the ability of the United States to handle trade growth.”

“Removing the obstacles to port performance allows ocean carriers, ports and marine terminals, drayage truckers, American importers and exporters, and every other business engaged in freight delivery to grow and prosper,” Dye concluded.