Boxships seek alternate ports following Yantian Covid outbreak

A Covid-19 outbreak around Yantian Port has seen boxships weigh anchor in the South China Sea and others switch port calls to Nansha, the latest pandemic headache to hit liner planning departments.

The outbreak, first detected at the key boxport 10 days ago, has seen three berths closed and others work at just 30% of their capacity as authorities put in place strict disinfection and quarantine measures.

Yantian is Shenzhen’s largest box facility, located to the east of the city. Data from eeSea carried below shows all the ships that are scheduled to call at Yantian in the coming 14 days, many of which are now having to make alternate plans. Vessel tracking from MarineTraffic shows there are already more than 30 ships at anchor waiting to access the port.

“Due to suspension of three berths at West Port from operations from 21 May 2021 and limited manpower resources, our operations capacity has been affected and our yard density is high,” a spokesperson for Yantian International Container Terminals said, adding: “We will co-operate fully with related government departments in battling Covid-19 and in resuming normal operations in our terminals.”

Yard density at Yantian is at a very high level. An advisory from Maersk yesterday warned that the Danish carrier expects continued terminal congestion and vessel delays upwards of seven to eight days in the coming week.

The container yards are only open to vessels with an ETA of just three days, while at Shekou port to the west, which covers the Chiwan and Mawan container terminals, the export laden container gate-in will be accepted only to vessels within ETA of five days.

“Due to aforementioned disruptions, we regret to inform you that several vessels will be omitting the Port of Yantian and Shekou in order to protect schedule reliability,” Maersk stated. Many other liners are taking similar evasive action.

Covid cases have stretched beyond Shenzhen to cross much of Guangdong province, sparking lockdowns and mass testing.


Mr Sam Chambers