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1/31/13: Charleston Advisory

posted Feb 1, 2013, 9:35 AM by Len James

Port of Charleston Client Advisory

Potential Work Stoppage Related to ILA-USMX Master Contract

January 31, 2013 

Ports all along the East and Gulf Coasts -- including ours -- would be impacted by any work stoppage associated with the Master Contract between the ILA and the US Maritime Alliance.


While the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) is not a party to the contract or the negotiations, we sincerely hope that they will be resolved favorably and swiftly, and that impacts on cargo flow, our customers, and the economy can be avoided.


The SCPA will work diligently both before and after any work stoppage to minimize impacts on our customers. Below are details on current preparations and expectations. These are subject to change and will be updated as new information becomes available or as the situation warrants.


To be updated on changes to Port conditions and practices, please visit and sign up for our "Client Advisories."


Your business in South Carolina's ports is greatly appreciated.


GATE HOURS - Extended gate hours will be provided at Charleston container terminals for ALL lines as follows:

  • Monday, February 4: 7 am to 8 pm
  • Tuesday, February 5: 7 am to 8 pm
  • Wednesday, February 6: 7 am to 8 pm


These extended hours are subject to change -- if there is no stoppage or an agreement is reached, regular gate hours will be re-instated.


In the event of an ILA coast-wide work stoppage, no containers will be interchanged on or off the SCPA's marine terminals in the Port of Charleston. Gate hours immediately following any stoppage will be communicated as they are determined.


VESSEL OPS & BERTHING - All container vessel operations would cease during a work stoppage. Due to security issues and related concerns, the SCPA will not provide lay-berthing for ships. All vessels are expected to complete operations and sail in advance of any shutdown. Upon resumption of normal operations, it is anticipated that preferences will be suspended and that ships will be worked in the order of their arrival off-shore.


GATE ACTIVITY & YARD STAFFING - Even with extended hours, customers and motor carriers should be prepared for increased gate activity over the coming days. The SCPA will provide the necessary equipment and personnel in the container yard. We will also ensure all support functions - such as maintenance, IT and other areas - are fully staffed during regular and extended hours.


CHASSIS - The SCPA has communicated with chassis providers and vendors and encouraged them to reduce damaged inventory, ensuring there are as many roadworthy units as possible in the port.


REFRIGERATED UNITS - Reefer monitoring will likely be limited during a work stoppage. Lines and shippers may consider minimizing the active reefer inventory on-terminal, as any work stoppage will keep boxes from being interchanged in or out for the duration of any shutdown.


FREE TIME - For the duration of any work stoppage, the SCPA will extend free time to its ocean carrier customers for all containers on terminal. Free time and demurrage calculations will both resume when any stoppage ends.


OTHER BUSINESS SEGMENTS/RAIL - It is not clear what impacts a strike or lock-out could have on non-container business segments. It is also not known precisely what impacts any work stoppage could have on rail operations. The CSX intermodal ramp has agreed to match the SCPA's extended gate hours on Monday through Wednesday, and the NS will be open until 7 pm the same three days, both conditioned on extended Port gate hours.


ENFORCEMENT/SECURITY - We have discussed our anticipated actions and the situation with the key federal agencies to ensure the necessary staffing will be in place during peaks and to provide for a swift recovery following any stoppage. For the safety and security of cargo and equipment, the SCPA Port Police will remain on duty 24/7 during any work stoppage.


To remain informed of any updates or changes to port conditions and practices, please visit and sign up for our "Client Advisories."