U.S. Southeast Port and Rail Operations Resume After Irma

The US Coast Guard cleared Port Everglades and Port Canaveral  to open on September 12, 2017 by 12:00 pm for restricted operations including cruise ships, and by 8:00 pm for all vessels.

Miami Port reopened on September 13, 2017. Previously truck traffic had been allowed to access Port Miami tunnel and Seaboard Marine Terminal, but ships had been unable to berth until the US Coast Guard approved conditions.

In southern Florida, PortMiami and the port tunnel are open. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) cleared truck and gate operations for Seaboard Marine container terminal, but truck and gate operations were closed Tuesday for POMTOC and SFCT container terminals, according to PortMiami, but was reopened at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

The port in Charleston was open for business Tuesday with normal operations, while the Savannah port expected to be fully operational Tuesday evening, and ready to load ships that had been waiting for Tropical Storm Irma to clear.

Intermodal rail service to areas north of Central Florida has largely been restored, but intermodal shippers can still expect delays of up to three days for railed cargo moving through the Southeast.

Class I rail carriers CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway, as well as Class II regional railroad Florida East Coast Railway (FECR), reported Wednesday that service is coming back online in the Southeast areas.

CSX intermodal terminals in Jacksonville, Central Florida, and Tampa reopened as of Wednesday.

However, some routes into Central and South Florida still not online. Recovery efforts are under way to restore service to areas impacted by Irma.

 Please be guided accordingly.

Hurricane Irma Update as of September 8th

Based on the latest information from the national hurricane center, government agencies, and terminal partners on the gulf coast of the United States, please see below the latest updates that could have operational impact to cargo operations in North America, provided by Maersk (as of 12pm EST today):

Port Operations
• Port Condition: Yankee –  24-hour notice of gale force winds.
• Gate Status: Closed.
• Vessel Operations: Closed.

• Port Condition: Yankee – 24-hour notice of gale force winds.
• Gate Status: Closed.
• Vessel Operations: Closed.

Port Everglades
• Port Condition: Yankee – 24-hour notice of gale force winds.
• Gate Status: Closed.
• Vessel Operations: Closed – No Maersk Line services scheduled to work.

• Port Condition: X-ray – 48-hour notice of gale force winds.
• Gate Status: Will close today. No current gate restrictions known at the moment.
• Vessel Operations: Open. Working a vessel today, but will tie down cranes and close terminal upon completion of operations for the vessel.

• Port Condition: X-ray – 48-hour notice of gale force winds.
• Gate Status: Open. Gate Operations will continue until close of normal business Friday Sept 8, 2017.

  • Exports – Coast Guard is only allowing the port to receive cargo for ships that will call before the storm. If a trucker wants to confirm, GPA customer service is taking calls through today.
    • Receiving
  • MECL Maersk Columbus
  • TA3 MSC Karlskrona
  • Sealand Maersk Winnipeg

Locked and Not Receiving – Truckers should not be able to get a PIN to gate in the terminal.

  • Sealand Spirit of Tokyo
  • MSC Kingston
  • TP11 Anna Maersk
  • TP10 ALS Ceres
  • TP16 Maersk Saigon
  • MECL Maersk Memphis
  • TA Maersk Kotka
  • TA3 MSC Charleston
  • CMA CGM Nabucco
  • Empties – No empty receiving today.
  • Imports – No restrictions as of latest update.
  • Closure: Gates will close at normal hours today.

• Vessel Operations: All vessel operations scheduled today will finish and sail by 2300. All vessel operations will cease by midnight tonight.

  • Vessels working and planned to sail by 1800:
  • MECL Maersk Memphis
  • TA3 MSC Karlskrona
  • Sealand Maersk Winnipeg
  • Reopening: Not yet confirmed.
  • Closed for any other vessels and closed for empties.

• Port Condition: Whiskey – 72-hour notice of gale force winds
• Gate Status: Open. Normal gate hours are planned through and including Saturday, September 9
• Vessel Operations: Open. Vessel operations continue – no closure planned at this time

• Port Condition: Whiskey – 72-hour notice of gale force winds
• Gate Status: Open. Normal hours.
• Vessel Operations: Open. Normal hours – no closure planned at this time

Rail Operations

  • CSX is taking precautionary measures to protect employees, rail traffic and infrastructure from potential risks of Hurricane Irma landfall. At this time, it is not known the level of impact the hurricane will have on CSX operations but it’s path and intensity are being closely monitored.
  • CSX Engineering is actively preparing potentially impacted areas prior to the storm making landfall in the United States, including staging compressors, generators, ballast and work equipment.
  • CSX Intermodal Customer Service in Jacksonville continues to operate with normal hours and staffing; any changes will be communicated accordingly.
  • Gate Hours and Container Acceptance: Please note the following changes to local gate hours and acceptance policy for containers billed to Charleston, Savannah, and Florida:
  • Effective Friday September 8th at 1700, the local CSX gates in Charleston and Savannah will close until further notice.
  • Effective Friday September 8th, CSX terminals will accept dry containers in-gate for Charleston, Savannah, and Florida destination but the containers will be held at origin until train service resumes for those destinations.  This plan is based on the current path & projected impact of the storm and is subject to change. Please note the following exceptions to this policy:
    • Hazmat and Live Reefers will not be accepted in-gate at origin.  All hazmat or live reefer shipments will be rejected at the gate for return to customer’s facility or CY.
    • Due to limited space availability, the CSX Louisville terminal will not be able to hold traffic at origin and effective immediately all containers destined for Charleston, Savannah, or Florida will be rejected at the gate until further notice.

Norfolk Southern

  • Effective at 1900 Thursday September 7th, Norfolk Southern closed all origin facility gates for shipments billed to Charleston and Savannah until further notice.  This includes acceptance at the South Carolina Inland Port facility in Greer.
    • Norfolk Southern will continue to accept containers billed to Greer with the exception of Charleston origin.


  • FEC continues to closely monitor the path of Hurricane Irma which is currently moving towards Florida.  Given Irma’s current track and forecasted path, please note the following adjustments to FEC operating plans:


Train Service
  • FEC ceased acceptance of interchange traffic from CSX & NS mid-day Thursday Sept 7th.
  • On Thursday Sept 7th, FEC will run limited train service. (One Southbound train ex Jacksonville & Two Northbound trains ex Miami)
  • On Friday Sept 8th there will be no mainline or local train service on FEC’s network.
Terminal Hours / Operations

The following FEC terminals are no longer accepting in-gate traffic:

  • Cocoa Beach – 0800
  • Jacksonville – 1000
  • Port Miami – 1200
  • Miami – 1500

FEC Terminals will be closed for all out-gating of shipments at below times:

  • Friday Sept 8th
    • Miami – 1200
    • Cocoa Beach – 1700
    • Jacksonville – 1700

Should you have any questions,please contact  RCL Agencies at 973-779-5900.

Caribbean, US Southeast ports brace for Hurricane Irma

Category 5 hurricane Irma, now the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic since 2005, is threatening days-long delays and significant damage to cargo in the Caribbean and US Southeast, the American Shipper reports.

As of 11:00 a.m. eastern standard time, the hurricane’s center was just east of Puerto Rico, moving WNW at 16 mph with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center. By Sunday, the center of Irma may be very close to South Florida.

Consequently, the U.S. Coast Guard has set port condition Whiskey for Port Miami, the Miami River, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, Port of Fort Pierce and all other South Florida terminals and facilities, including the Port of Key West, effective at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday. Port condition Whiskey means sustained gale force winds from a hurricane force storm are predicted within 72 hours.

While port condition Whiskey remains in effect, these ports and facilities will be open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue.

However, ocean-going commercial vessels and ocean-going barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans to depart these areas, the USCG said. Vessels desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the Captain of the Port (COTP) for approval.

Meanwhile, the USCG set port condition Zulu for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which took effect at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday. “While port condition Zulu is in place no vessels may enter or transit within these ports without permission of the COTP,” the USCG said. “All vessel movements are prohibited at this time, and all ship-to-shore operations must cease until further notice.”

Hurricane Irma is expected to hit the Coastal Southeast area this weekend wreaking havoc across the states. “Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a mandatory evacuation order effective Saturday for Coastal Georgia. (Click here for details.)”  According to a press release from the Georgia Ports Authority, they will cease operations at the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick, effective Saturday, Sept. 9, through Tuesday, Sept. 12.Truck gates will close at 6 p.m. Friday in Savannah, while vessel operations will end at midnight. The Port of Savannah will not be accepting empty container returns Friday.

With the devastating affects hurricane Harvey left behind in Texas all hands are on deck for Hurricane Irma. Preventative actions such as those issued by Governor Deal have been taken to assist in reducing the damage to those who may be affected once Hurricane Irma makes landfall.

Houston Ship Channel Reopened on Limited Basis After Hurricane

The US Coast Guard announced a limited reopening of the waterway after a six-day shutdown for Hurricane Harvey, the Journal of Commerce reports.

The Coast Guard said it would allow vessels with drafts up to 37 feet on the lower sections of the Port of Houston, and vessels with drafts of up to 33 feet at the ports of Texas City, Galveston, and Freeport. The ports’ normal maximum draft is 45 feet. Farther east, Port Arthur and Beaumont ports were closed by severe flooding that swamped the southeast corner of Texas as the storm made a final landfall Wednesday and headed inland. In southern Texas, the Port of Corpus Christi’s inner channel has been reopened to vessels with drafts of 20 feet or less. The Port of Lake Charles, Louisiana, which was closed to deep-draft ships Wednesday, reopened on Thursday.

Transits on the Houston Ship Channel will be limited to daylight hours, and in Houston will be restricted to the section of the channel below Morgan’s Point, near the Barbours Cut container terminal but downstream from the port’s Turning Basin breakbulk wharves.

Houston-area shipping shut down last Friday as the hurricane approached. Floods ravaging Houston and surrounding Texas counties have interrupted freight transportation and caused damage and disruption that will affect logistics for weeks or possibly longer.  Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath have interrupted truck, rail, sea, and air transport, as well as activity at warehouses and refineries and petrochemical plants.

The Category 4 hurricane hit land with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, but weakened into a slow-moving tropical storm that continues to dump rain on the area.

 RCL Agencies will provide more updates once available.  Our thoughts are with all those affected by the storm.

Labor Dispute Led to Gothenburg Port Traffic Fall

Gothenburg’s container traffic went down  22 percent in the first half of 2017 to a 16-year low due to a bitter labor dispute at APM Terminals that is in its second year with no solution in sight, according to the Journal of Commerce.

The dispute between the operator, APMT, and section 4 of the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union began back in May 2016. It has continued despite the fact that APMT has signed and is a party to the industry’s collective agreement. The situation has led the government to take action and set up an enquiry to review labour market rules.  Repeated government efforts to end the dispute have been unsuccessful.

“The consequences for Swedish trade are immense, as several services to key market have been withdrawn, including direct services that are vital to both imports and exports,” said Magnus Karestedt, chief executive of the Gothenburg Port Authority.  “A great deal of freight has been shifted from sea to road, investments are failing to materialize, and jobs have disappeared. ”

The dispute has led to slowdowns, blockades, overtime bans and strikes by dockers while APM Terminals launched a partial six-week lock out earlier in the year and announced 160 dismissals in June.

The issue has grown so severe that ACL, which has served the port for 50 years, has publicly expressed doubts about whether it can continue to call there.

Repeated attempts by national mediators to resolve the dispute have failed, prompting the Swedish government to launch an enquiry to review the country’s labor market rules.

Gothenburg’s container traffic was already weakening before the dispute, dipping 3 percent in 2016 to 798,000 TEU from 820,000 TEU in 2015 despite new calls by larger vessels on the Asia-Europe trade. The port could end 2017 more than 300,000 TEU down from the 925,000 TEU handled in 2012.

Other cargoes have continued to increase, however, with first half roll-on, roll-off volume 7 percent higher at 291,000 units against 272,000 units a year earlier, automobile traffic up 14 percent to 137,000 from 121,000 and crude oil shipments increasing seven percent to 12 million tonnes.

 Stay informed via RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international ports.

Congested Chittagong Port Limits number of Ship Calls

As the Journal of Commerce reports, the Chittagong port authority has imposed limits on the number of ships without cranes calling the port.

The Chittagong port authority  allows only seven gearless ships on services to and from the port compared with 12 previously.

The limit, which has cut gearless vessels’ wait times at the port’s outer anchorage from nearly 10 days to five, will remain in place until two ship-to-shore gantry cranes that were damaged in a June 25 accident are fixed. At the same time, ship agents said that the short notice given for the new limits could generate further delays as geared vessels, or those with cranes on board, need to be phased into shipping lines’ networks’ and goods must be unloaded from gearless vessels before reloading onto geared ones.

As the port scrambles to handle congestion in its waters, truck waits are mounting at the 17 inland container depots around the port.  Currently it take a truck at least three days to drop off a container.

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates once available.

Barges Delayed at Ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam

Inland barges are facing longer delays loading and unloading at Rotterdam and Antwerp with no sign of an early easing of congestion, the Journal of Commerce reports.

Barges are having to wait up to 96 hours to process their cargoes at Antwerp due to the large number of ships calling at the Belgian port and the shortage of workers during the vacation season, according to Contargo, a leading European barge and rail operator.

As for port of Rotterdam, barges are facing delays of between 36 and 96 hours at some port terminals, particularly APM Terminals’ two facilities at Europe’s largest container port,  due to a cyberattack on the parent Maersk Group last week, which caused the terminal’s closure.

Please be guided accordingly.  RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide more updates once available.

Spanish Ports Strike Ended

After months of unrest, Spanish dock  workers unions called off planned strikes after reaching an agreement with business associations on labor conditions  according to the Journal of Commerce.

The employers’ association ANESCO has guaranteed the jobs of Spain’s 6,200 registered dockworkers and unchanged working conditions during the three-year transition to the new plan that will end the unions’ monopoly over the hiring of waterfront workers.

In return, the unions have accepted a 10 percent cut in wages and early retirement for its older members. The unions, which have staged several strikes and slowdowns over the past five months, had scheduled three 48-hour stoppages on alternative hours through July 8.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international shipping.



Spanish Port Strike -Updated Schedule

According to the information provided by our partners, all Spanish ports -Valencia, Barcelona, Tarragona-  will be affected by stevedores strike action as follows:

  •  Week 10: Strike on March 6th, 8th and 10th every other hour
  • Week 11: Strike on March 13th, 15th and 17th every other hour
  • Week 12: Strike on March 20th, 22nd and 24th every other hour

The strike will be performed during odd hours:

  •  The first strike hour is said to be 09:00 a.m.
  • The last strike hour is said to be 07:00 a.m. the following day

Please be guided accordingly.

RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide  more updates once available.

Spanish Dockers Announce 9-Days Strike Action beginning March 6th

Spanish dock workers have called for nine days of strikes starting from March 6th against the port liberalization decree, as the Journal of Commerce reports.

Current legislation requires dockers to join a pool, SAGEP, in each port. SAGEP recruits and trains workers and puts them at the disposal of terminal operators and other cargo stevedores. Port operators can only hire casual labor if the pool can’t provide sufficient staff or if they are not  suitable for the job.

The proposals would allow companies operating in ports to hire staff that do not belong to unions, a move unpopular with union members but which would help bring Spain in line with European Union regulations.

The nine days of stoppages across dozens of Spanish ports would take place on alternate days, meaning disruptions could drag on for three weeks between March 6 and March 24.

Negotiations between the unions and the government were set to continue.

Please be guided accordingly. RCL Agencies will continue to monitor the situation and provide more updates once available.