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According to A.N. Deringer Inc., damage resulting from Hurricane Sandy has caused many ocean carriers scheduled to call on the ports of New York/New Jersey to evoke Force Majeure, allowing them to divert shipments to alternate ports, such as Baltimore, Norfolk and other East Coast ports.
Under Force Majeure, ocean carriers are exempt from fulfilling their original delivery obligations for occurrences beyond their control, such as the port damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
As cargo is diverted to other locations, importers are incurring unexpected costs for carriage to, delivery and storage at these ports. Carriers are generally offering two options: to take delivery of cargo at the revised port of unlading and arrange for trucking on their own (demurrage charges incurred must be paid prior to release) or request the carrier to move the cargo inland, paying the incremental costs associated with the movement.
Both options are resulting in additional costs for importers. As a result of the diverted cargo, truck carriers serving the ports of Norfolk and Baltimore have been inundated with requests for carriage.
Customers with export containers already gate-in at the NY/NJ terminals may want to have their freight exported from Baltimore or Norfolk instead, when the option becomes available. Otherwise, these bookings will need to be cancelled under Force Majeure. If the booking is cancelled, containers need to be taken back and the empty containers will need to be returned to the terminal at the customer’s risk and expense.
Deringer will continue to provide updates on the recovery progress at New York/New Jersey; the diversions are occurring on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, for those carriers that haven’t diverted cargo, shipment delays are still occurring because of disruptions to power and services in the area. If you have questions regarding your shipment, please contact Deringer’s customer service center handling the shipment.