The CEOs of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma have urged President Obama to assign a federal monitor to help settle a West Coast longshoremen’s contract dispute that the port officials said is having a “crippling effect” on commerce.

The inability of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association to achieve consensus in the contract negotiations that began more than six months ago was demonstrated once again today with parties disagreeing over the current status of the talks.

Five carriers today joined Mediterranean Shipping Co. in announcing congestion surcharges on cargo heading from Asia to U.S. West Coast ports.

Additional details have been released about a plan, reported last week, to create a “gray” chassis pool that will allow free interchange of chassis throughout the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Twelve container ships were anchored outside the congested ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Sunday, matching a two-year high, the ports’ Marine Exchange reported.

Even at lower rates of growth in container volumes globally, ports will still have to absorb hundreds of millions of additional TEUs over the next decade, a challenge for marine terminals over and above the painful transition to an era of big ships.

Containerized import volume through the Port of Oakland jumped 9.17 percent in October as the port gained at the expense of the congested ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Weekly wrap-up for Nov. 22
Another week of the top stories on JOC.com focusing on the crisis-level congestion plaguing U.S. West Coast ports, although one story on Horizon Lines slipped into the Top 10.

U.S. Federal Maritime Commission staff is looking into ocean carriers’ renewed plans to implement West Coast port congestion surcharges, FMC Chairman Mario Cordero said today.

Recent case law involving the independent contractor model in trucking indicates that companies must cover all bases in order to convince the courts and government agencies that owner-operator drivers are not direct employees, a Southern California attorney told the Harbor Transportation Club this week.

The international shipping industry is only spending 0.1 percent less on bunker fuel than it was 24-weeks ago, but that fluctuation equates to big savings: $117 million daily.

Nicaragua Canal route map
Construction on the controversial Nicaragua canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans will begin on Dec. 22 on the Pacific side, according to the government officials.

Hapag-Lloyd and CSAV just need approval from Ukraine and China to merge and create the fourth-largest container lines, after Mexican regulators gave the tie-up the green-light this week.