CMA CGM Rabelais in Southampton
Photo: Dreamstime

High winds over the weekend in the UK, added to slow-working at the port of Felixstowe and the cyber-attack on CMA CGM, will result in “supply chain misery for weeks”, according to sources.

One UK NVOCC told The Loadstar the continuing problems with Felixstowe’s vehicle booking system had caused “chaos”, and it had led to carriers diverting ships at the last minute to London Gateway and Southampton,

“I didn’t think it could get any worse, until I came in yesterday to find CMA CGM had been hit by a cyber-attack and they couldn’t release B/Ls or do much else,” he said.

“We have our retailer customers screaming at us, as they are desperate to fill their shelves to get an early start to Christmas, in case the Covid lockdowns get harsher, and of course they have no interest in the vehicle booking system at Felixstowe, they just want their products.

“And I can’t see the delivery situation getting any better any time soon; I can only see supply chain misery for weeks ahead,” he added.

The Loadstar understands that CMA CGM’s UK office has begun taking manual bookings for Southampton calls, while its latest haulage-availability spreadsheet, sent to customers today and seen by The Loadstar shows that it will not take bookings to and from any port in the UK to any inland destination until at least 12 October.

In a customer advisory sent today, CMA CGM UK said that while it continued to be unable take bookings at its website, “INTTRA, GT Nexus and other platforms that are used to send booking into CMA CGM are working. We encourage you to use these platforms if you have access.”

It added that it could also accept bookings made via a booking template on an excel spreadsheet attacked to an email.

Meanwhile, Felixstowe said on Friday “measures to manage the flow of containers to and from the port are having a positive impact”.

It said it had released 1,600 additional VBS slots, as well as extending Sunday opening hours for road haulage, and was seeing the first intake of new operational staff as part of its recruitment of 100 more equipment drivers.

The port claimed that, “on average there were 749 VBS slots unused each day”, which has baffled hauliers, who remain adamant they cannot get bookings and have shown The Loadstar screenshots showing zero availability.

The port has again apologised to “any customers experiencing delays”, and said it was confident that the measures it had taken and the “close cooperation with our partners, will address these operational challenges”.

However, according to an internal staff memo seen by The Loadstar last week, the port had so far received confirmation that seven main line vessels would “divert to competitor ports over the coming weeks”. And the port will also lose several feeder calls, following the diversion of mother vessels.

“At the moment these are just a series of one-off diversions, but we have to accept that there is now a real threat for these calls to be on a permanent basis,” said the memo.

It added: “We have a lot of unhappy customers,” and was requesting “a call to arms” from staff to reverse the decline in productivity at the port, which it said had resulted in a loss of market share, “as the competition has out-performed us”.

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  • Jack jones

    October 01, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    I think you may find that morale of staff at the port is at an all time low after constantly getting crapped on by the union and the Company.