Oakland – Another major shipping line is bringing first-call service to the Port of Oakland in 2021. The Port said today that Geneva-based MSC would launch an Oakland route to Southeast Asia Nov. 6. MSC said its weekly service would link Oakland with ports in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The announcement signals a major upgrade in Oakland’s business with Southeast Asia. It also provides the Port of Oakland added shipping capacity while a trade boom is constricting vessel space.
“We’re excited to welcome MSC’s service because Southeast Asia is an important, growing market,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes. “We’re also gratified that the shipping industry continues to acknowledge Oakland’s role in world trade by adding more and more capacity.”
The new service is significant on several fronts, the Port said:
- It’s the fourth first-call service introduced at Oakland this year.
- It demonstrates the importance container shipping lines place on Oakland; MSC is the world’s second-largest carrier.
- It provides more opportunity to grow Oakland’s booming import business.
MSC’s new Sentosa Service follows first-calls introduced in Oakland this year by CMA CGM, Matson, and Wan Hai Lines. First-calls are where ships make their initial U.S. stop after sailing from Asia. The majority of U.S. import cargo – usually time sensitive – is discharged at first ports of call.
According to the Port of Oakland, imports make up 55 percent of Oakland’s loaded container volume in 2021. Traditionally, Oakland reports a 50-50 split between imports and exports. The change reflects Oakland’s growing first-call business, the Port said. Carriers have introduced new services to meet soaring U.S. consumer demand for overseas products, the Port explained.
The Port said the new Sentosa Service would be welcomed by exporters, as well as importers. Shippers in both directions have faced challenges finding vessel space for their cargo. The crunch is delaying shipments and driving all-time high freight rates. MSC’s large vessels, capable of carrying more than 10,000 20-foot containers, should reduce pressure, the Port said.
There’ll be one other benefit from the new MSC service, the Port of Oakland said: congestion relief. Cargo owners can use the Sentosa service to avoid sending cargo through Southern California ports. Over sixty ships a day anchor outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach awaiting berths, the Port explained. Cargo on those vessels is stranded for up to two weeks. By using the Sentosa service, importers can bypass Southern California bottlenecks, the Port said.
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