North Europe: Key Region Ports

Update on the situation in the Ports of Antwerp, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Rotterdam

Dear Valued Customer,

Please find some updates on the North European key port situation:

Ports of Bremerhaven & Hamburg

In the interest of providing optimum visibility to our customers, we’d like to give an update of the situation in Hamburg and Bremerhaven.

While North Europe ports continue to face disruptions, the Port of Bremerhaven is returning to more healthy yard density levels after clearing backlogs from previous strike actions.

On the Bremerhaven rail side, Hamburg Süd teams were able to significantly increase rail capacities to and from the hinterland destinations over the past weeks and could thus alleviate supply chain pressure.

In Hamburg our network has been severely disrupted by the current congestion levels across Europe and the port itself is subject to high yard density levels, high berth waiting times, and high waiting times for both import and export, resulting in significant delays. This has been caused by a magnitude of factors combining to have a ripple effect on operations, including labour shortages due to strike action and holiday season, high dwell on import cargo, demand surges into North Europe ports, inland bottlenecks and more.

Our contingency action plans for the Port of Hamburg are now in operation, however we are expecting ongoing disruption to continue through August and September.

Discussions between trade union ver.di and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) remains ongoing for both ports, with the next rounds of negotiations scheduled for 10 and 22 August. We will be keeping a close eye on the situation across the ports and communicating any developments, including action plans we will be taking to minimise disruption, with you as soon as possible.

Ports of Antwerp & Rotterdam

The current situation beyond ocean transportation to and from the Ports of Antwerp & Rotterdam is the following:


Many barge transports are delayed due to long waiting times at the deep seaport terminals and continuous ETA changes of the mainline vessels. This affects the barge berthing windows, and subsequently barge schedules, leading to rebookings and cargo backlog. The present energy crisis has triggered an enormous barge capacity demand for the transport of coal to power stations. Barge capacity is being redirected through the Danube river in order to evacuate grain from Ukraine.

The situation is aggravated by the low water on the Rhine, caused by the prevailing high temperatures coupled with a lack of rainfall. The current water level at measuring point Kaub is reported below the 80cm mark, normal being 224cm, which translates into less barge capacity, and further interferes with inland waterway transportation to and from the Rhine related destinations.

Hamburg Süd teams continue to investigate additional and alternative transport options in order to minimise any delays to your shipments.


In recent weeks, we have seen disruptions in rail transport caused by line maintenance and construction, labour shortage, and disruptions in the seaports. In some cases, trains are not handled, booked time windows are not adhered to or changed/cancelled at short notice, resulting in train cancellations and cargo backlog. In an effort to mitigate delays for our customers, Hamburg Süd teams are working hard on procuring additional capacities.


Significant shortage of truck drivers in the last months continues to compromise trucking capacity. At the same time, road transportation is seeing additional high demand as a result of above-mentioned challenges on other modes of transport. Hamburg Süd teams are working hard on procuring additional trucking capacities to mitigate further delays for our customers.

Despite all our efforts, we expect the situation to remain critical over the coming weeks in Antwerp and Rotterdam. Should there be any changes, we will communicate them as soon as possible, together with further actions we are taking to minimise disruptions.

In the current situation we need you by our side helping us supporting you the best way possible to limit further delays and kindly request you to please continue picking up full import containers as swiftly as possible after discharge or requesting dispatch in order to structurally stabilise the situation in the port. We also kindly ask that you please limit changes to existing orders as much as possible, and assist our efforts for timely customs clearance and documentation.

We hope to be able to give you a detailed update, in case of any open question please don’t hesitate to reach out to your local Customer Experience representative .

We are always by your side.

Kind regards,

Your Hamburg Süd Team