I went inside the East Coast’s largest port and saw how a backlog of goods are moved amid the never-ending chaos of ships, trucks, and trains

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

  • The Port of New York and New Jersey has seen cargo volumes skyrocket during the pandemic.
  • An increase in e-commerce purchases during the pandemic has resulted in a backlog of goods.
  • Larger and larger ships are coming to the East Coast’s largest port to help keep goods moving.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Welcome to America’s front door.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Port of New York and New Jersey is the East Coast’s largest port with container terminals on each side of New York Habor that serve 46.3 million people within a four-hour driving radius.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A combination of ships, trucks, and trains all converge here to transport a myriad of goods. And in recent months, business has been booming.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A backlog of consumer goods built up during the pandemic contributed to higher than normal shipping levels as locked-down consumers fueled an e-commerce craze.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Read More: The US is facing a supply-chain crisis as 21 cargo ships float off the coast of LA waiting to dock

It’s up to the port to help get consumers the items they ordered and keep global trade running smoothly.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

I went behind the scenes in the controlled chaos of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Here’s what I saw.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

It all starts with a customer. A consumer business on one side of the world buys a product that’s built on the other.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

One way to transport those products is via ocean shipping. Goods are put into a container that’s then loaded onto an ocean-faring ship and sent across the globe.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Cargo volumes in 2020 actually started off worse than 2019 by a small variance but then rapidly worsened in the early months of the pandemic. In August, however, volumes jumped and the port quickly outpaced its 2019 volume from August through December.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A total of five months in 2020 saw what is normally eight months’ worth of volume.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A ship’s capacity is measured in 20-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs. One 20-foot container equals one TEU while a larger 40-foot container would be two TEUs.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Port of New York and New Jersey handled 7.5 million TEUs in 2020.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Containerized shipping was actually created at the Port of New York and New Jersey in 1956. Before that, goods were offloaded onto trucks and driven long distances across the US.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Now, one ship can visit multiple ports, picking up and dropping off containers as it goes.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Consolidation in the ocean shipping industry has resulted in fewer companies. Common names at this port are Maersk, CMA CGM, and Ocean Network Express.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Read More: 22 companies cashing in on the brutal log-jam at America’s busiest ports

Sharing agreements allow shipping companies to use space on each other’s boats. An Evergreen container on a CMA CGM ship isn’t uncommon, for example.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Containers are cheap enough to buy at a cost of around $3,500 apiece. Tens of millions of these containers could be found across the world from the decks of container ships to the backs of trucks and to ports like this one.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

They’re almost constantly in motion and identified by tracking numbers. Containers will often travel empty on container ships and companies will determine whether it’s worth it to ship the containers empty or just buy another one.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Just like an airport, this port has its own privately-owned terminals where containers are loaded and unloaded from ships. The north side of the Elizabeth Channel, for example, is home to Port Newark Container Terminal while the south side is home to Maher Terminals.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Massive cranes greet the ships and immediately begin offloading and loading containers in a real-world game of Tetris.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Handling the containers are port workers known as longshoremen. The union positions are highly sought after thanks to good pay and benefits.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The typical progression for a longshoreman is starting as a baggage handler for cruise lines and then becoming an automobile driver for the car ships. From there, each longshoreman can choose their own specialty and hone their craft.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Port of New York and New Jersey doesn’t just handle containers, however, and other major imports and exports include automobiles…

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Cement…

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

And edible oils. .

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Even scrap metal is a valuable commodity.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Cruise ship terminals are also under the port’s purview but traffic in that sector has been almost entirely quiet for most of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Trucks are weighed when they enter the port and credentials, known as transportation worker identification credentials, are checked. They’ll then meet with a longshoreman to arrange a spot to pick up their load.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The terminal’s computer system then relays a message to another longshoreman, who then retrieves the container. Each truck is different and one can drop off one load and immediately pick up another one.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

But not all pull the double duty. Some trucks are just picking up while others are just dropping off.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The process looks like a lot of waiting around but trucks should be in and out of the port in under two hours.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Around 80% of truck drivers are owner-operators, giving them more freedom than a fleet driver for an established company.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The trucks and rail lines that serve the port can bring goods as far as Tennessee, the Midwest, and Canada. Chicago, for example, is just a two-day rail trip from here.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Around 18% of cargo moves out of the port by rail. Some trains leave the port after being given a mile’s worth of the 20 and 40-foot containers.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Larger and larger ships have been arriving at this port since the pandemic began.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

One such ship is the CMA CGM Marco Polo, a container vessel with a maximum capacity of 16,022 TEUs. It’s the largest ship to visit the East Coast that can now access the Port of New York and New Jersey because of recent port improvements.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Read More: The largest container ship to ever visit the East Coast just arrived at the Port of New York and New Jersey: Meet the Marco Polo

Standing in the way between the port and larger ships, historically, has been the Bayonne Bridge, which connects Bayonne, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York. While ships have grown in size, the bridge has remained the same for nearly 90 years.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

That was until the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spent $1.7 billion to raise the bridge’s roadway to allow larger ships to pass underneath. The new clearance of the bridge is now 215 feet and ships as large as 18,000 TEUs can pass underneath.

CMA CGM Marco Polo arrival
The CMA CGM Marco Polo arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Source: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The port has been seeing a steady stream of larger and larger ships ever since. The CMA CGM Brazil broke the port’s record in September, only to have the CMA CGM Marco Polo break it again in May.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The CMA CGM Marco Polo is considered a “New Panamax” ship since it’s greater than 12,500 TEUs. Standard “Panamax” ships were once the largest ships that the Panama Canal could accommodate until larger locks were added in the 2010s.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Containers are stacked up on top of each other 200 feet high, with even more below deck.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

During offloading, a constant flow of these intermediary trucks approach the ship to receive containers.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Containers are plucked from the ship by a crane that’s operated by a longshoreman sitting 200 feet off of the ground.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The longshoreman has an overhead view to make collecting the containers easier.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The massive containers are quickly whisked through the air by the crane as if weightless.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The longshoreman then lowers the crane, aligning the container with the truck below.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Once it’s dropped onto the truck, the container is secured and the truck drives off. It’s less than 30 seconds from the time the container is secured until the time the truck is on its way.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The process continues until all of the containers are offloaded.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The ship then receives a new load of containers to transport to the other side of the world. Foreign-flagged ships can’t move goods between two US ports under the Jones Act.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Exports from the US include cotton, forest products, agricultural supplies, and foodstuffs, to name a few.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Around 4,700 containers are being dropped and loaded, just under one-third of the CMA CGM Marco Polo’s total capacity.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

From the bridge of the Marco Polo, it’s containers for as far as the eye can see. The Port of New York and New Jersey never shut down operations during the pandemic.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Larger ships coming to the port also requires larger cranes.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The APM Terminals-operated cranes services the Marco Polo are a staggering 209 feet tall.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

A maximum of seven cranes was assigned to the Marco Polo at its peak to help expedite the unloading process.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Not every container is searched by US Customs and Border Protection when they enter the country. The agency instead uses complex algorithms to detect anomalies that prompt searches.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Inspectors, for example, can look at the weight of a container and see if it matches up with the cargo listed on a manifest. If it doesn’t, that prompts a search.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Human smuggling isn’t a major issue on the East Coast compared to the West Coast, which has closer proximity to Asia, but ships do have to be on the lookout for stowaways.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Now that the Port of New York and New Jersey has proven it can handle larger ships, it’s only a matter of time before the record set by the Marco Polo will be shattered.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

And New York Harbor will continue to receive some of the largest ships in the world.

Port of New York and New Jersey visit
Touring the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A container ship carrying chemicals near Sri Lanka has been burning for 6 days

Smoke rises from a fire onboard the MV X-Press Pearl container in the seas off the Colombo Harbour, in Sri Lanka May 26, 2021.
Smoke rises from a fire onboard the MV X-Press Pearl container in the seas off the Colombo Harbour, in Sri Lanka May 26, 2021.

  • A container ship carrying chemicals caught fire off the coast of Sri Lanka last week.
  • Singapore-flagged MV X-Press Pearl was waiting to enter a port when it caught fire.
  • All of the ship’s crew members have been taken to safety.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A container ship carrying chemicals has been on fire off the coast of Sri Lanka for six days.

The Singapore-flagged MV X-Press Pearl – carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid – was waiting to enter a port in Colombo when it caught fire on May 18, the Associated Press reported.

Sri Lanka’s navy believes the fire was caused by chemicals being transported on the ship, which was loaded in Hazira, India, on May 15.

X-Press Feeders, which owns and operates the ship, said its 25 crew members have been taken to safety..

Sri Lankan Navy spokesman Indika de Silva told the Associated Press that firefighters on tugboats and a naval ship are all trying to douse the fire.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A mini replica of the Suez Canal in a French lake is helping mariners learn the lessons of the Ever Given blockage

ever given replica
A scaled-down model of a container ship at the Port Revel Training Centre in France (L) vs. the actual Ever Given ship in the Suez Canal in Egypt (R).

  • A training facility in a French lake is helping mariners navigate the world’s trickiest waterways.
  • The lake contains a mini version of the Suez Canal, which is replicated on a 1/25th scale.
  • Owners of the facility say they’ve seen a spike in interest after the Ever Given crisis last month.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A training facility in a lake in eastern France, which replicates some of the busiest trading routes in the world, has seen a surge in interest after the colossal container ship, the Ever Given, became wedged in the Suez Canal last month.

The Port Revel facility, located in a lake on the foothills of the Alps in Saint-Pierre-de-Bressieux, is designed to help mariners and ship captains navigate crucial shipping channels.

The replicas of the different waterways, including the Suez Canal, the San Francisco Bay, and Port McArthur in the Gulf of Mexico, are made to be as realistic as possible, built to one twenty-fifth the scale of the real ones.

Read more: The 4 biggest losers of the Suez Canal fiasco – and 4 surprising winners

Trainees at the facility have to learn how to maneuver scale models of massive container ships without getting stuck in narrow channels, facing strong underwater currents, and machine-generated waves while doing so.

Instructors can also simulate steering problems and engine outages to see how the trainees react.

replica suez canal ever given
Instructor Philippe Boulanger talks to pilots as they steer a scaled-down model of a container ship, named the Spirit of Port Revel, during a training course on a lake at the Port Revel Shiphandling Training Centre in Saint-Pierre-de-Bressieux, France, on April 19, 2021.

Francois Mayor, the managing director of Port Revel, told Reuters that the training facility has seen a spike in interest following the chaos caused by the Ever Given container ship, which ran aground amid a sandstorm in March and blocked the Suez Canal for six dramatic days.

He said it may prompt shipping companies to send their staff for refresher courses.

“After each accident … we see new clients coming,” said Mayor, according to Reuters. “The cost of training at Port Revel is nothing like the cost of having a vessel like that stuck for a day.”

Ever Given, Suez Canal
Container ship Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal, Egypt on March 27, 2021.

Mayor also said that while the facility has multiple machines to simulate different environments for the maritime pilots, it is “a bit hard to recreate sandstorm.”

“But we have gusts of wind which will push our ship to one side or another,” he added. “You have little space to maneuver. You have to be particularly focussed.”

port revel france suez canal
Francois Mayor, managing director of Port Revel, steers a scaled-down model of a tanker, named the Brittany, on a lake at the Port Revel Shiphandling Training Centre in Saint-Pierre-de-Bressieux, France, on April 19, 2021.

While the Ever Given might have been freed from the banks of the Suez Canal – with the help of tugboats and excavators – the 1,300-foot ship remains trapped in Egypt.

Last week, the Suez Canal Authority said they won’t release the ship until its owners agreed to pay up to $1 billion in compensation.

The ship and the 25-person Indian crew of sailors currently remain at anchor in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Egypt’s president orders preparations be made to unload Ever Given’s cargo if refloating fails, a high risk strategy adding days of delay

suez canal ever given cargo
A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 25, 2021 shows an Egyptian tug boat equiped with a rope trying to free Taiwan-owned cargo MV Ever Given.

  • Egypt’s President has ordered preparations be made to unload the cargo of the Ever Given ship.
  • He outlined the plans to the Suez Canal Authority on Sunday morning, local media reported.
  • Unloading the cargo risks unbalancing and damaging the ship, an expert warned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Egypt’s president has ordered preparations be made to unload the cargo of the Ever Given ship if refloating fails, according to local media reports.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi outlined the plan to the Suez Canal Authority on Sunday morning, Daily News Egypt reported.

Efforts are currently underway to refloat the ship. The floatation efforts included towing and pushing the grounding vessel using 8 large tugboats, the Suez Canal Authority said.

Authorities are also working to dig the Ever Given out of the sand, The Wall Street Journal reported. Dredgers have shifted 27,000 cubic meters of sand to a depth of 18 meters, Arab News said.

But plans are in place to unload the cargo of the massive ship if these efforts fail, CGTN Africa reported.

Helicopters would most likely need to be used to lighten the Ever Given’s load, The Wall Street Journal reported. This is because there are no cranes in the vicinity that are tall enough to reach the top of the stacked containers, the paper said.

The process could unbalance and damage the ship, BBC News reported. “Worst case scenario is that she breaks in half because of [uneven] weight distributions,” Sal Mercogliano, an expert in maritime history, told the BBC.

It is likely that an effort to remove cargo boxes from the ship would take several days, Bloomberg reported. The Ever Given carries a load of 20,000 containers.

The Ever Given ship has caused a blockage in the Suez Canal since Tuesday morning.

The incident is costing the global economy billions and has caused hundreds of vessels to become stranded.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Animals stranded on board 20 livestock ships trapped in the Suez Canal jam could starve and die if the situation lasts much longer, charity warns

ever given suez canal
Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021.

  • The Ever Given ship is still lodged in the Suez Canal, causing a jam of more than 200 vessels.
  • At least 20 livestock ships are trapped, The Guardian reported.
  • The stranded animals could starve and die if the situation lasts much longer, a charity warned.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

At least 20 livestock ships have been unable to pass through the Suez Canal due to the blockage of the global trade route by the massive Ever Given container ship, according to The Guardian.

These livestock ships are among the more than 200 vessels stuck in the bottleneck, according to The Washington Post.

There are concerns that if the blockage lasts much longer, the animals stranded on the ships could starve, dehydrate, and even die.

Read more: Wayfair’s cofounder explains why furniture delivery is still so slow – and when it will return to normal

“My greatest fear is that animals run out of food and water and they get stuck on the ships because they cannot be unloaded somewhere else for paperwork reasons,” Gerit Weidinger, EU coordinator for the Animals International charity, told The Guardian.

“Getting stuck on board means there is a risk [for the animals] of starvation, dehydration, injuries, waste buildup so they can’t lie down, and nor can the crew get rid of dead animal bodies in the [Suez] canal.” Weidinger continued. “It’s basically a ticking biohazard timebomb for animals and the crew and any person involved.”

The majority of the ships loaded animals weeks ago in both Spain and Romania, Animals International told The Guardian.

Spanish officials told the paper on Thursday that a pause has been introduced on shipping animals to the Middle East due to the logjam, the paper said.

“We cannot tell you anything about these ships, but due to the blockage of the Suez canal as a result of the grounding of the cargo ship, the Spanish administration has given orders that no animal transport ships bound for Saudi Arabia and Jordan should be loaded until the canal can be navigated normally,” the Spanish agriculture ministry told The Guardian.

The Romanian agriculture ministry did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider