TPM23: Ocean Alliance could be next domino to fall after 2M

Carrier alliances are undergoing a major shift as rates plummet and costs look set to increase, analyst Lars Jensen told TPM23 attendees.

The Ocean Alliance could be the next major ship-sharing agreement to sink, possibly sometime this year, as its members chart different strategies and look to gain market share during the current “rate war” among ocean carriers, industry analyst Lars Jensen said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Journal of Commerce’s TPM23 conference in Long Beach, Jensen said ocean carriers face a market similar to the one seen during the 2008-09 financial crisis when a massive buildup of ship capacity came up against weakening demand.

While demand could recover should inventory destocking occur through the spring and US consumers keep spending, Jensen said the industry faces other headwinds, such as political scrutiny over the alliances’ anti-trust exemptions and higher costs from stringent carbon emissions rules. The result, he added, is that carriers are thinking more about “who do I want to spend the next few years with” as has happened with the pending dissolution of the 2M Alliance.

“It’s a normal downcycle we are going through, then there are some elements that are slightly different,” Jensen, CEO and partner of Vespucci Maritime and a Journal of Commerce analyst, said. “Rates are coming down faster than they went up. It is a rate war.”

“2M is the just the first domino to fall,” he added. “When it was formed, you had two parties with the same strategic interest. Now you have two parties whose interests are no longer aligned.”

China-US spot rates saw freefall in H2 2022

Spot container rates for Shanghai to Los Angeles and New

Cosco has second-largest orderbook

Jensen, one of the first to predict the breakup of 2M, said at the time that Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s large orderbook of new vessels allowed it to operate on a standalone basis across many trade lanes, without having to share space on Maersk vessels. A similar dynamic could play out with Ocean Alliance member Cosco Shipping, which has the second-largest orderbook of new ships behind MSC, Jensen said.

Cosco faces renewed urgency to fill those new vessels due to a loss of market share over the last two years that Jensen attributed to China’s COVID-19 lockdowns and the resulting shipping delays out of the country.

“I’m going to expect Cosco to be very aggressively going after market share,” Jensen said. “Who’s the easiest prey to go after? That would be customers already on your ships through your alliance partners.”

“That’s not going to sit well with [Ocean Alliance members] CMA CGM and Evergreen Marine,” Jensen said, adding that Taiwan’s Evergreen faces the additional tension of working with a China-based carrier.

Indeed, Cosco recently upsized capacity on an Asia to US Gulf service it operates on a standalone basis, but that is also offered through the Ocean Alliance. The new capacity on that Cosco service now evenly matches one that CMA CGM also offers on a standalone basis to the US Gulf.

Likewise, CMA CGM is pursuing a strategy not similar to Maersk’s, “but somewhere in the same direction,” Jensen said.

As does Maersk, CMA CGM looks to own US terminal assets after striking acquisition deals on the US East and West coasts. CMA CGM’s North American President Peter Levesque said during his appearance at TPM23 Tuesday that owning terminals allows the carrier to “determine our own destiny.”

The Ocean Alliance’s agreement is set to expire in 2027, Jensen said, but he noted the current market uncertainty and the pending breakup of 2M could hasten a decision not to renew the Ocean Alliance in 2023.

Regarding THE Alliance, Jensen said “it’s slightly stable” due to similar operating strategies and less aggressive ship ordering. However, he said the changing carrier landscape may make THE Alliance’s two biggest members, Hapag-Lloyd and Ocean Network Express (ONE), reconsider their partnerships. Jensen even posited that the two could decide to merge as a way to take on ever-larger ocean carriers.

“This is not the first time we’ve seen alliances break up and get re-formed,” he said. “The challenge is once everyone’s dance card is open, Hapag and ONE will have some thinking to do about who do we actually want to be lined up with now that everything is shifting.”

2M suspends USEC service as rates, volumes drop near year’s end

Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) and Maersk are halting a trans-Pacific US East Coast service after freight rates have been cut by more than half from the summer peak.

MSC and Maersk, partners in the 2M Alliance, said in separate statements this week that they will temporarily suspend their jointly run Liberty/TP23 service until further notice, adding that the suspension “will help alleviate port congestion.” The last sailing will be Nov. 23 from Indonesia. Liberty/TP23, which was introduced in March 2021, offers service from Indonesia, Vietnam and China to the US ports of Charleston, Savannah, and New York-New Jersey with a string of ships in the 8,000 TEU range.

The service suspension comes as rates into the US East Coast see further weakening as the end of 2022 nears. After dropping about 25 percent from October, average US East Coast freight rates now sit at $4,500 per FEU, with bookings done as low as $3,700, according to a trans-Pacific forwarder who asked not to be identified. That is down 55 percent from levels seen in June, the forwarder added.

“Ocean carriers are cutting rates and voiding sailings left, right, and center,” the source said.

With rates returning to pre-pandemic levels, ship supply to the US East Coast appears too high to offset rate declines. Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis said in its most recent Sunday Spotlight newsletter that November vessel capacity into the USEC is 19.5 percent above the level seen in November 2019, with December capacity running even higher at 37.7 percent above the same month in 2019.

Meanwhile, more service changes could be coming. MSC’s standalone Santana service, which was shifted from a West Coast to an East Coast service last year, is reportedly moving to every three weeks instead of a weekly service, according to a maritime shipping source who did not want to be identified. The service change could not be independently verified.

Some of the slowdown in container activity is showing up in the most recently available cargo figures for New York-New Jersey. Although New York-New Jersey has been the busiest US port for three consecutive months, the October volume of 792,548 TEU was essentially flat with the year-ago month. In a statement to, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it forecasts full-year 2022 volume to be about 9 million TEU, which would be up only nominally from 2021.


Canadian and US Terminal update 11/7 (week 45)


  • Dwell times for cargo bound for Toronto remain high as the inland terminals face congestion challenges;
  • Fairview Terminal is receiving consistent rail supply to match current volumes;



The dwell is still high for all the terminals. Centerm and Delta have the worst performance, with dwell time more than 7 days;


A picture containing chart
Description automatically generated



Fairview Cove Terminal is at 3.1 days average dwell last week. 

Atlantic Hub Terminal remains congested, with 5.9 days dwell time.







USA Long Beach


Seattle + Tacoma ( The Northwest Seaport Alliance)


Highlights & Updates

• PCT will have a limited gate Friday, 11/18. Contact ETS for more details.
• All terminals will be closed Thursday, 11/24 for the Thanksgiving holiday.
• T5 will be closed Friday, 11/25. For a complete list of next week’s gate schedules visit our website here.
• There is ample warehouse & transload capacity available across the gateway. Our monthly Warehouse &
Transload Availability report, which shows many providers with space, is found on page 3 and on the website here.
• The USDA’s Commodity Container Assistance Program (CCAP) is still available to exporters who use T46 and
West Hylebos Yard to stage export loads. More info on reimbursement and eligible commodities found here.
• At PCT Everport now requires all trucking companies to secure valid empty out appointments.
• Husky and PCT currently are not accepting TRAC or DCLI bare chassis drops until further notice.



 Chassis Status

As of March 31st, the PNW Market Pool has transitioned to single-provider neutral pools to service the region:
o TRAC Intermodal operates the TRAC Pacific Northwest Pool (TPNP)
o DCLI operates the Direct Chassis Link Pool (DCLP)
• For more details on pool changes please visit our website for a Pacific Northwest Pool Operations Update
• If you have questions or would like further information on chassis in the PNW, please contact operators directly:
§ TRAC Intermodal: Cindy Davies, Director, Western Region
§ DCLI: Amy Hume, General Manager, Logistics West
§ FlexiVan/AIM: Susan Duran, Director, Western Region
§ Milestone: Sandra Magallanes, Account Executive, West Coast
• Chassis Start Stop Locations for The Northwest Seaport Alliance can be found on our website.


International Intermodal Service

Ocean carriers cut trans-Pac services as blank sailings fail to stem rate slide

Mediterranean Shipping Co. Maersk, and CMA CGM are cutting three trans-Pacific services in response to a sharp drop in import demand and spot ocean freight rates.

The service changes, which amount to one post-Panamax service and two Panamax services, are not major capacity cuts and are likely to do little to prop up freight rates. But the moves demonstrate how fast carriers are pulling capacity as rates approach or fall below break-even levels.

2M Alliance members MSC and Maersk said last week in separate statements that their jointly run Sequoia/TP3 post-Panamax service will be suspended because of “significantly reduced demand” in the trans-Pacific. The Sequoia/TP3 service offers about 14,000 TEU in weekly capacity from Ningbo and Shanghai to Los Angeles.

The service will be merged into 2M’s 13,600-TEU Jaguar/TP2 service that calls Long Beach, Maersk said. Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis said the last sailing on the Sequoia/TP3 service, which was introduced in 2016, will be on the MSC Savona, which is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Oct. 5.

Maersk also said two standalone services into the US East and Gulf coasts would be merged into one. The TP28 service, which the carrier debuted in 2022, would be merged into the TP20 service, which debuted in 2021, as of the final sailing of the Merkur Archipelago from Vietnam’s Vung Tau port on Oct. 13.

Calls at the ports of Norfolk, Charleston, and Houston on both services will be dropped, with the TP20 only calling New York-New Jersey and Mobile, Maersk said. Origin ports on the TP20 will include Jakarta, Vung Tau, Shanghai, and Ningbo. Both services use Panamax-size vessels of about 5,000 TEU.

Maersk said that consolidating services would offer better transit times for shippers and increase berth availability. It added that “as soon as cargo demand recovers, we will bring capacity back through relaunching TP3, TP28, upgrading of other services, and/or sailing extra-loaders.”

Separately, CMA CGM ended its Golden Gate Bridge service, which called the ports of Oakland and Seattle, according to Sea-Intelligence. The last sailing of the service, which offered about 8,500 TEU in weekly capacity, was on the CMA CGM Medea, which is currently berthed at Seattle.

Outside of the major ocean carriers, smaller lines have also been pulling ships from the trans-Pacific. Independent carrier CULines has ended a trans-Pacific express service that it jointly ran with Shanghai Jin Jiang Shipping since July 2021, after closing its TPN service in August, maritime consultancy Alphaliner said in a report. CULines has a second trans-Pacific express service that it still operates, Alphaliner said.

October capacity unchanged from a year ago

The service changes follow a series of blank sailings that carriers have laid out for October in a bid to cut capacity, but that have failed to halt a slide in spot freight rates. Sea-Intelligence said that ocean carriers as of last Friday planned to blank 48 planned voyages during the month. In comparison, carriers had only planned to blank 12 October voyages six weeks earlier, Sea-Intelligence said.

Those blank sailings are doing little to prop up spot ocean freight rates, which have slid 10 percent weekly since mid-August, according to a research report from investment bank Jeffries. Spot rates into the US West Coast are now hovering at $2,400 per FEU, close to the level where ships are only seeing break-even results.

Sea-Intelligence said the service cuts have mostly affected the surge capacity that was brought into the trans-Pacific amid high spot rates. Even with the service cuts, carriers will still have 1.56 million TEU of vessel space deployed in the trans-Pacific during October, essentially flat with totals from last year.

“With the blank sailings announced thus far, the carriers have merely reduced capacity down to the same level as we saw last year,” Sea-Intelligence said. “The relevant issue is the magnitude of capacity operated in the trade, and blank sailings might well be counteracted by larger vessels, new services, and possibly extra-loaders.”

China COVID rules make deep cuts in Hong Kong cross-border container volumes

Hong Kong faces losing all its cross-border container traffic with Shenzhen and Guangdong Province if Chinese authorities continue to impose COVID-19 restrictions on trucking and feeder operations, the head of Hong Kong’s terminal operators’ group has warned.

Jessie Chung, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators’ Association, said the volume of containerized exports trucked from Guangdong Province for shipment through Hong Kong port has slumped since February when China imposed COVID-19 controls on trucking and barge operators. The association represents four of Hong Kong’s five terminal operators, including Hutchison’s Hongkong International Terminals, Cosco-HIT Terminals, Modern Terminals, and Goodman DP World.

“The situation worsened in June and July,” Chung told Tuesday. She said the volume of export containers transported by cross-border truck to Kwai Chung container terminal fell 48 percent in June and 58 percent in July compared with a year earlier.

Hong Kong government figures show a year-on-year average monthly drop of 60 percent in total freight imports by truck from South China, to just 400,000 tons between February and June.

Cargo volumes moved to Hong Kong by barge from South China show an average monthly drop of 24 percent to about 3 million tons since January compared with last year.

“We have to liaise with Shenzhen and Guangdong authorities, otherwise we will lose all our cargo,” Chung said.

But Chinese authorities have rebuffed attempts by Hong Kong government officials for an agreement to ease restrictions on cross-border truckers and barge operators.

“There have been numerous meetings and plenty of emails and other communication on the cross-border trucking and barge operation issues,” Roberto Giannetta, chairman of the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association, told “But in terms of progress, we can say there is zero improvement.”

No incentive for China to ease restrictions

Under the controls introduced in March, cross-border truck drivers are banned, while container-laden chassis can only be picked up and dropped off at designated Hong Kong-Shenzhen border crossings. Barge crews must also live on their vessels for extended periods without shore leave.

“Shenzhen has everything to gain by maintaining the existing obstacles — cargo flow through Hong Kong is being shifted to Shenzhen ports,” a senior shipping executive told “There is, therefore, very little motivation for them to ease restrictions that would restore smooth transport of containers through Hong Kong port.”

Chung pointed out the district government in Nansha, about 60 miles west of Hong Kong, has recently introduced a raft of incentives to encourage shippers to move cargo through Nansha, part of the Guangzhou port complex. These include cash bonuses for shippers who move into the district and to firms who increase freight volumes, especially reefer cargo.

de customized storage solutions that aligns with your business, but also provide a range of other warehousing services, which includes fulfilment, returns management, packaging, specialty wrapping, transportation, logistic support, customized logistic process, supply chain management, distribution, inventory control, door-to-door transport, pick and pack operations, cross dock distribution, labelling, temperature controlled storage solutions, food grade facilities, and so on.

Our team of logistics experts would consult with you and understand your business requirements minutely and come up with a warehousing and logistic process that is custom tailored to fit your business requirements accurately. It would help in cutting down costs, and enhancing profitability. Not only would our warehousing services cut down cost, the benefits you make would be passed on to the customers and your net profit, which would create a growth oriented environment for your business and enhance your market reputation.

Apart from the regular warehousing services, we provide a range of value added customer specific services to help them with their business, order fulfilment, packaging, assembly and kitting requirements. Our logistics and warehousing tools and equipment are state-of-the-art, and provide the best of warehousing services available to date. We continue to upgrade our warehouses with the advanced technologies and processes, as and when they are available, to ensure that our clients are able to benefit from the evolving logistic market. Consult with our warehousing and logistics experts today to find out in details how our warehousing services can be beneficial for you, and rest assured you won’t be disappointed.