Ocean container “dwell time” addressed by OCEMA this month.

The issue has been especially acute on the U.S. West Coast.

By ·

Earlier this month, The published a Best Practice to address issues identified by the in its interim report on Fact Finding Investigation No. 28, “Conditions and Practices Relating to Detention, Demurrage, and Free Time in International Oceanborne Commerce.” 

The issue has been especially acute on the U.S. West Coast. 

The Best Practice, which was unanimously approved by senior executives of the ocean carrier members of OCEMA, calls for clear, simple, and accessible dispute resolution processes for detention and demurrage charges. 

Individual ocean carriers may deviate from the OCEMA Best Practice as they deem appropriate to meet operational or other business requirements, spokesmen added. 

“As noted previously by Commissioner Dye during her investigation, it is an enormous challenge to develop industry‐wide practices for demurrage and detention. OCEMA’s goal was to take a practical approach to the way the dispute resolution process information is provided to shippers,” Jeffrey Lawrence, OCEMA’s Executive Director, stated in a release. 

“This is an ongoing process. The carriers will review their individual detention and demurrage dispute resolution systems based on the Best Practice. OCEMA and its members are committed to improving communications processes regarding detention and demurrage.” 

Under the Best Practice, OCEMA lines would individually identify points of contact for disputes, describe the type of information required to dispute a claim, and set timelines in their detention and demurrage rules for receiving and responding to disputes. In addition, the Best Practice recommends that, once individual lines finalize their processes, they make their dispute resolution processes more accessible by posting links on OCEMA’s website. 

“We believe this Best Practice is a significant first step in addressing the issues raised by Commissioner Dye’s report, as it should provide a detention and demurrage framework for the great majority of U.S. international ocean container cargoes. We look forward to working with the Commission and the FMC’s Innovation Teams on ways to further improve transportation processes,” added Lawrence. 

OCEMA is an association of 11 major U.S. and foreign flag international ocean common carriers that provides a forum for its members to discuss operational, safety, and efficiency issues pertaining to the intermodal transportation of ocean freight within the U.S. OCEMA also operates the CCM chassis pool system of 120,000 chassis, at over 200 U.S. intermodal locations, which has been an essential tool in providing rail and marine terminal fluidity and efficiency. 

OCEMA membership comprises CMA CGM; COSCO SHIPPING Lines; Evergreen; Hapag-Lloyd; Hyundai Merchant Marine; Maersk Line; Mediterranean Shipping Co.; Ocean Network Express; Orient Overseas Container Line; Wan Hai Lines; and ZIM.

This announcement comes at a time when the tells Logistics Management that container dwell time at San Pedro Bay ports is decreasing. 

The average dwell time for the month of February was 3.2 days. 

“This average is not ideal, but it is going in the right direction,” stated , Manager of Government Affairs for the PMSA. 

“Container dwell time had been on the rise in recent months, reaching the highest average time since we began tracking dwell time data,” noted Alvarenga. “In January, containers stayed at terminals an average of 4.32 days before getting picked up, and 21.9 % of all containers stayed five days or longer at terminals. In February, only 9.8% of containers exceeded a five day stay, that’s the lowest percentage of containers at terminals for 5 days since September. We are pleased to see the dwell time numbers in a downward trend which increases the fluidity of the terminals.” 

Terminals are more efficient when cargo gets picked up on a timely basis and not stored at marine terminals. “The longer containers stay at a terminal, the more time is wasted shuffling through old containers to get to a specific one,” according to Alvarenga. 


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [ protected]

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