FMC to Get Report on Ocean Capacity Probe

FMC to Get Report on Ocean Capacity Probe

The Federal Maritime Commission will receive Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye's report on her eight-month investigation into ocean carrier capacity and equipment shortages on Dec. 8, but it's unclear whether the findings eagerly awaited by shippers and vessel operators will be made public.

The commission will consider Dye’s report in closed session during a regularly scheduled meeting. Chairman Richard A. Lidinsky Jr. said commissioners will determine later what portions will be released.

The regulatory body began the inquiry this spring after shippers complained of widespread shortages of vessel space and containers for U.S. ocean imports and exports.

Carriers had cut back capacity starting in 2009 as the steep economic downturn sent rates on most trade lanes plummeting. An upturn in demand at the start of 2010 found importers complaining that their cargo was getting bumped from ships leaving Asia and U.S. exporters said their goods were delayed for weeks because containers had not made it to the U.S. interior. 

By The Numbers: U.S. Monthly Container Trade.

The commission has kept much of the investigation under wraps to ensure the confidentiality of members of the industry who offered testimony. The FMC offered a glimpse of the investigation in September when it ordered tighter oversight of carriers in the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement and the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement.

Also on the Dec. 8 agenda are an open-session discussion on modernization of commission rules of practice and procedure. In the closed session, the commission will hear an interim report of an investigation of shippers of household goods, and consider a petition from Hainan P O Shipping for exemption from a portion of the Controlled Carrier Act.

-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.