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July 6 2020

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24 The Journal of Commerce | July 6 2020 Government FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSIONER Rebecca Dye in June urged ocean car- riers and terminal operators to give beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and truckers greater advance notice of oper- ational changes that are compromising port fluidity in the Los Angeles–Long Beach (LA–LB) complex. Through innovation-team con- sultations with port stakeholders in recent months, FMC has devel- oped a list of suggestions to address long-standing issues involving the return of empty containers, terminal gate closures, and shift cancellations. These problems have gotten worse this year as carriers blanked dozens of sailings owing to the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). "As we move into the third and fourth quarter of 2020, greater collab - oration between ocean carriers and marine terminals will be critical to avoid cargo disruption," Dye said in a statement. She cited four operational issues that port stakeholders identified as requiring immediate attention: ocean carrier instructions to truckers to return empty containers to terminals other than where they took deliv - ery of the shipments; insufficient advance notice of terminal gate clo- sures; lack of widespread notification of sailings blanked by carriers; and insufficient collaboration between carriers and terminals on changes to the earliest receiving date for export shipments at marine terminals. Truckers in LA–LB have been deal- ing with sporadic gate closures and equipment return problems as blank sailings disrupt vessel schedules, but terminal operators say they are giving as much notice as possible of opera- tional changes considering they control neither the vessels nor the equipment. A trucker and terminal executive told The Journal of Commerce in June some port stakeholders in LA–LB are already taking steps similar to those suggested by Dye. Alan McCorkle, president and CEO of Yusen Ter - minals Los Angeles, said that if the terminal receives last-minute instructions to cease receiving empty containers, Yusen will not cancel existing appointments. "We won't change on truckers in mid-stream," he said. "It's not right." Now that ocean carriers are announcing blanked sailings several weeks in advance, some terminals in LA–LB are giving truckers sufficient notice of their intention to cancel work shifts in order to cut down on costs, said Peter Schneider, vice presi - dent of TGS Transportation. "There are some forward-thinking terminals giv- ing us at least a week's notice," he said. Yet not all terminals are doing so. "We would like to see something that gives us a seven-day look," Schneider said. In addition, when a trucker is redirected from one terminal to another, the second terminal will accept the container, but tells the trucker to return the chassis to another location, oftentimes at the trucker's own expense. "It's not my chassis. I shouldn't have to pay," Schneider said. Returning issue "The biggest issue is equipment," said Weston LaBar, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association, noting that the return of empty containers and repo- sitioning of chassis continue to cause inefficiencies for truckers as they have since before the COVID-19 crisis began to interrupt supply chains in the trans-Pacific four months ago. On the issue of empty container returns, Dye said the innovation team determined that whenever possible, truckers should be allowed to return the empty container and its accompa- nying chassis to the terminal where the trucker took delivery. Standard- izing this procedure would facilitate more dual transactions for truckers and would reduce the number of chassis needed in the port complex. When this scenario is not possible, terminals should strive to give BCOs and their trucking vendors a seven-day advance notice, "but no less than 24 hours, for empty cutoffs," Dye said. Marine terminals in Southern California generally run two shifts each day Monday through Thursday, and day shifts on Fridays and Satur - days. However, with the large decline in container volume, terminals have been canceling work shifts in order to reduce labor and equipment costs. Terminals should adopt a goal of notifying the shipper community at least three days and preferably seven days in advance of canceled shifts, Dye said. Similarly, BCOs and truckers should give terminals greater advance notice if they decide not to keep appointments they made. "Rapid cancellation of unneeded appointments can help the whole system run smoothly," said Dye. Ocean carriers should notify customers of blanked sailings at least seven days in advance and should give greater visibility to port stakeholders via their websites, she added. When a scheduling change forces carriers to alter the earliest receiving date (ERD) for export loads, they should give BCOs at least seven days' notice of the new ERD. "More notice, especially for inland-based exporters, would be better," Dye said. While these measures will help to improve cargo velocity in the largest US port complex, they are only sug - gestions, she noted. "Identifying these approaches is meant to assist stakeholders in addressing operational challenges in San Pedro Bay and is not intended to suggest that these approaches are required by the Shipping Act of 1984 or the commission's regulations," Dye said. JOC email: twitter: @billmongelluzzo Signal flags FMC says shippers need better notice of LA–LB port operation changes By Bill Mongelluzzo FMC innovation teams determined terminals should notify shippers at least three days in advance when cutting gate hours due to low demand. Philip Pilosian / International | Washington | Customs | Security | Regulation

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