CustomsImportIndustry News

FMC Investigates Demurrage and Detention Practices At U.S. Ports

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has expanded an investigation into abusive, incorrect detention and demurrage practices at congested U.S. ports. As part of its examination, the Commission is welcoming reports of unfair abusive demurrage and detention practices.

Demurrage and Detention Soar as Ports See Historic Congestion 

Fees are piling up as U.S. ports are ensnared in cumbersome delays.

A critical chassis shortage has buried numerous containers as they wait in line for transit from the terminal. Containers are often sitting for days or weeks before a truck is available. At the same time, the sheer volume of incoming containers has bogged down rail transit. Carriers that lack on-dock rail have seen compounded delays as they await chassis to transfer containers from pier to rail yard. As a result of these factors, some containers are sitting at ports for 30 days or more.

All the while, ports, and carriers are imposing steep detention and demurrage on containers that fail to depart on time.

Earlier this month, dozens of trade organizations requested that the FMC use its authority to stop demurrage and detention assessment while port congestion remains extreme.

The request came in the wake of complaints from across the industry regarding unfair fees. NVOCCs, truckers, freight forwarders, and more have levied accusations that steamship lines and marine terminal operators are improperly assessing detention and demurrage. The assessments keep coming despite historic congestion and delays that are largely beyond control.

FMC Expands Investigation, Seeks Examples of Abusive Practices

In response to the influx of complaints, the FMC has announced a supplemental order to expand one of its investigations. As a result, Fact-Finding Investigation 29 will evaluate demurrage and detention practices at ports throughout the country.

The FMC is looking for input and examples of abusive practices to help determine its finding. This is a prime opportunity to share your experience with unjustified demurrage and detention.

The Commission is currently accepting submissions at ff29@fmc.gov. The FMC offers the option to submit comments confidentially for those prefer not to go public. Scarbrough International recommends submitting any instances of improper demurrage and detention that your organization has experienced in recent months.

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