News

Delays on transatlantic services between North America and Northern Europe

Dear Valued Customer,

At Hamburg Süd, we’re proud to be by your side and are fully committed to making sure your supply chain moves with agility, connectivity, and ease.

Due to widespread disruptions on the North America and North Europe networks since early 2022,we have been forced to make frequent adjustments to our transatlantic (called TA) services, including resetting schedules.

The situation and subsequent reason for schedule adjustments is complicated and made up of a multitude of factors, which have had a ripple effect on services. Extensive terminal congestion, high waiting times, inland bottlenecks, industry strike action, labour shortages demand surges and domino effects from an influx of transpacific trade have combined to create a chain reaction for the transatlantic network - resulting in delay gaps that are unrealistic to recover and require adjustment.

As your pain points are our pain points, we understand and appreciate your frustration with the situation and are working steadfastly towards a resolution. Our teams have discussed how we can alleviate such issues not only in the short term, but also through long-lasting and sustainable solutions that ensure a more reliable transatlantic service. These include:

  • Additional assets on Ocean – deploying extra vessels that avoid heavily congested terminals and shorten the distance between departure weeks.
  • In the case of port congestion, working to map solutions in the form of alternative ports and areas, procuring extra landside solutions as a support to ensure delays are minimised.
  • Reviewing structural contingencies to relieve pressure from schedules and improve the overall network.
  • Investigating the possibility of consolidating port calls where applicable for a more fluid service.

As we work through these measures to ensure more consistency and predictability on transatlantic services, we will keep you up to date with any developments. Please do not hesitate to reach out to and find detailed information on our FAQ document.

We thank you for your trust and hope to continue assisting you on all matters pertaining to your logistical needs. We deeply value our partnership with you, and endeavour to continue to add value to your supply chain.

Kind regards,

Your Hamburg Süd Team

External Q&A in connection with current delays on transatlantic services between North America and North Europe

What is causing the current delays seen on the transatlantic services?

The current situation is caused by a combination of issues. Hamburg Süd transatlantic (TA) services have been experiencing delays as a result of disruptions across North American and North European networks since early 2022. These include port congestion, terminal congestion, lowered capacity, and lowered landside labour capacity, which have all contributed to bottlenecking and domino disruptions across the global and local supply chain.

This, in turn, has extended waiting times and resulted in a need for vessels to reset.

Why are these delays happening?

These delays are caused by a combination of issues that have added stress to an already stretched network. These include:

Terminal congestion. Widespread and well documented congestion across North American and North European ports. This congestion was and is caused by higher number of vessels than terminal capacity, as well as limited yard space due to long-standing cargo. Demand increases on other routes to both North America and North European terminals has also added further pressure to the networks.

Waiting times. Where there is congestion, longer waiting times usually follow. This causes operational delays and lengthened waiting times.

Lowered landside capacity. Earlier this year, lowered capacity of landside transport means, especially truck driver shortages, resulted in bottlenecking of cargo leaving port landside. This issue has affected both the North American side and the European side. Additionally, there are high rail waiting times, adding to further supply chain constraints. Whilst much action has been taken to mitigate this issue, it remains a problem – though no longer at the level it was before.

Strike action. Major NEU terminals in Germany have been subject to frequent strike action. This has resulted in several stoppages across ocean and intermodal services.

Increased Demand and influx of transpacific trade. We have seen demand increasing on other routes into both NAM and NEU terminals, as well as the domino effects from an influx of transpacific trade, further adding to congestion levels.

Whilst Hamburg Süd has been doing its utmost to alleviate pain points caused by the above situations, each one of these has a chain reaction across the industry, leading to delays. This has resulted in identifying the need to adjust vessels.

What does Hamburg Süd mean by “adjust vessels”?

When we say “adjust vessels” we mean we have had to reset vessels. This is because delay gaps become unrealistic to recover. To reset a vessel is when vessels are running behind schedule, and the vessel/voyage needs to be corrected to a more realistic environment.

How long are these delays expected to be in place?

We are working closely with our partners to find sustainable and long-term solutions to the issues at hand. Each delay is handled individually, where we seek to find the most optimal solutions for our customers and partners.

What is Hamburg Süd doing to solve these issues?

We understand that this situation is deeply unfortunate to customers and are doing our utmost to alleviate customer pain points. To this, we are implementing short-term solutions where we can. We are also working on long-lasting and sustainable solutions with our partners to ensure we can ease pain points and provide a consistent and reliable transatlantic service.

Currently, we are adding more physical assets in the form of extra vessels to help shorten the distance between departure weeks. These extra vessels will avoid heavily congested terminals, and whilst they will not add new capacity, they will add further capacity to ensure that delays are minimised. This will also minimise flows to the likes of Newark and enable booking diversions at alternative locations (such as Norfolk/Baltimore) where feasible.

In the case of port congestion, we are working to map solutions in the form of alternative ports and areas, procuring extra landside solutions as a support to ensure that delays are minimised. We are reviewing structural contingencies to relieve pressure from schedules and improve the overall network.

Are these issues affecting other shipping companies? I am not seeing the same waiting time for them when looking to book?

We cannot comment on how others are doing their business. To us, it is important to ensure that you have as much information as possible when booking with us. Therefore, when we know there is waiting time outside a port, we make sure to include this in our updated booking times. We do this as we understand how painful and frustrating it can be to have incorrect information when trying to plan and streamline your overall supply chain.

What can I do to alleviate my supply chain pain points?

As your partner by your side, your supply chain is of the utmost importance to us. We understand that this situation is frustrating and makes supply chain planning cumbersome. Whilst we are working steadfastly to solve these difficulties, there is some action you can take to alleviate some of your pain points:

If your cargo is waiting at the terminals:

Work with your logistics planner and your Hamburg Süd representative to ensure that once cargo arrives at port, it can swiftly be moved and/or find alternative transportation means.

If your cargo is currently in transit on Ocean, on its way to terminals:

Work with your logistics planner and your Hamburg Süd representative to find alternative routes, utilising rail, truck, barge and possibly air to avoid further disruption to supply chains. It may also make sense to investigate the possibility of changing the destination, as well as looking into the possibility of utilising the group’s warehousing options near ports.

I have further questions. Who can I speak to?

We understand that this situation has and is deeply frustrating for all our customers, and we encourage you to reach out to . Our customer service and commercial teams are always available to support you, should you need assistance.