Thursday, April 2, 2015

Long Beach Port Extends Dockage Fee Waiver

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission on March 23 voted unanimously to extend by three months a temporary waiver of the fees that container vessels typically pay when they’re docked at the port for more than four days.

The fee waiver provides financial relief to the ocean carriers whose vessels have been delayed by capping dockage at four days. The waiver, which went into effect Dec. 1, 2014, had been due to expire March 31, but was extended through June 30 by the five-member commission.

The waiver was originally passed as a reaction to the then-increasing congestion that had plagued the port for months.

Due to contributing factors like changing chassis ownership models, new vessel sharing alliances and a shortage of truck drivers, unloading vessels began taking more time last fall. As a result, carriers have experienced longer dockage periods and greater dwell time at anchor.

Historically, a container vessel would dock for an average of 3.5 to four days; however, the same vessel may now dock up to seven days due to the current congestion plaguing the port.

The port says it waived about $1.3 million in dockage fees between December 2014 and February 2015, but that the dollar amount should decrease over the next three months as it continues to work on clearing its current backlog and port operations begin to normalize.

As of the morning of April 2, there were 31 container vessels in the Long Beach and Los Angeles port complex, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Of the 31 vessels, nine were at anchor, awaiting a berth.