Importers to Feel the Impact of Baltimore Bridge Collapse


The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in Baltimore on Tuesday 26 March 2024, leaving the carriers and importers on the east coast with some potential headaches. It could lead to a ripple effect mainly on the global automotive vehicle and coal supply chain as operations at the port are expected to remain shut for months. Baltimore usually handles about 1.1 million containers every year. That is around 21,000 containers each week that will need to go through other ports. 

While it's not the biggest port in terms of container numbers, Baltimore has the deepest water for ships on the east coast. Some ships are too big for most other ports in the area, like New York, Norfolk, and Savannah. Bigger ports nearby, like New York/New Jersey and Virginia, can probably handle more containers if Baltimore is closed. This might keep shipping prices stable. But there's only so much space in ports, and any extra pressure could cause problems. It's important to see how quickly shipping companies can change their plans, especially for ships already heading to Baltimore or containers waiting to be sent out.

Ports like New York, Virginia, and Savannah were already pretty busy in 2023, so more containers might make things worse. This could lead to higher shipping costs. The Panama Canal's drought and conflicts in the Red Sea have already caused shipping prices to go up by 150%. This latest incident could make things even worse. Some smaller ships might go to ports like Philadelphia, Boston, or Wilmington in North Carolina. These ports were less busy in 2023. Ships might even go to Halifax in Canada, which is trying to become a big east coast hub. But this bridge collapse might test if it's ready for that. 

The impact depends on where the containers are going. But one area that could really suffer is the import of finished vehicles into the US. Baltimore is the biggest car port in the country, handling about 750,000 cars every year. It also sends out about 320,000 cars. Brunswick in Georgia handles fewer cars, and it might not be able to handle the extra load. Right now, there aren't enough ships to carry cars around the world. The fact that one ship is stuck in Baltimore because of the bridge collapse won't help.



Where is your Business primarily located?