Common causes of delays with ocean freight shipping

Get Free Estimate

"*" indicates required fields

MM slash DD slash YYYY

Have you ever experienced a delayed shipment? Or problems at customs? We’ve all gone through this at least once in our lives. If you want to know what stands behind your delay, this article is for you. We’ll try our best to explain some of the most common causes of delays with ocean freight shipping. Nowadays, most international moving companies do find a way to avoid this issue, but if it happens to you, one of these causes may be why.

6 Most common causes of delays with ocean freight shipping

The transit time published for sea freight shipments is not comparable to a shipping time calculator. Numerous factors can contribute to delays or even early arrivals. Some delays occur at the loading port, while others occur during transit or at the discharge port. However, in most cases, the difference will be no more than 2-4 days. Here are the 6 most common causes of delays with ocean freight shipping.

cargo ship leaving port
Although shipping overseas has never been easier, we still may run into trouble from time to time.


1. Unexpected weather conditions

Hydrometeorological factors have the most direct impact on the terms of delivery of your cargo if you transport your cargo by sea. If the weather forces a detour from the planned route, it will cost time and money to reroute. In the case of particularly severe storms, the ship may have to be sheltered in a safe port, which could delay delivery by 1-2 weeks. In the event that the ship is damaged by the storm, this time period may be even longer. Make sure the shipping company is using quality international moving crates in order to avoid weather disruption.

2. A fault with the ship’s mechanical systems

There are more than 120 thousand parts in one ship engine. They’re all vulnerable. There are tens of thousands of technical issues that prevent the ship from continuing its journey. In addition to the time it will take to get the ship to the nearest dock for repairs, this process could take a month or more. Unless the country or port is not serviced by the corresponding shipping line, your cargo in containers cannot be transshipped to another vessel in the port of transshipment, but it can be.

3. Navigation troubles

For Example, floating ice, mines torn from the anchors, fishing nets, barrels, floated trees, and so on. The ship is forced to alter its course due to these snags. Additionally, strands and reefs are two of the most common hazards. Some examples include the “Amur-2507” in the Black Sea or more significant incidents like the incident in Sweden in 2017 or the current situation with the Makassar Highway Ro-Ro ship. Violations of the PCA, crew errors and the human factor, equipment failure, poor vessel stability, and other factors are frequently to blame for these kinds of dangers.

cargo ship having troubles with common causes of delays with ocean freight
Navigation troubles are one of the most causes of delays with ocean freight.

4. The berth is full

The term “congestion of ships” is well-known in the maritime industry. It is usually a seasonal phenomenon in some of the world’s busiest ports. In recent years, many observers have noted that the world’s largest ports (Shanghai; Singapore; Rotterdam; New York; etc.) are able to successfully implement the latest technologies (including IT) and avoid congestion, while ports like Port Said and Chittagong, which are dozens of times smaller in turnover, continue to experience this problem. Many shipping lines have difficulty discharging their fleets during the rainy season in Bangladesh, and Egypt’s cereals season (where Port Said is a hub and transshipment port for many shipping lines) simply cannot handle the volume of cargo flow. Be prepared to wait if your container is on board a ship traveling this route. In most cases, shipping lines will notify customers via email if there will be a delay.

5. Faulty port infrastructure

There are many reasons for delays that aren’t written about in the media. When it comes to developing countries, outdated equipment, lack of certification and scheduled inspections, and non-compliance with safety standards all lead to an emergency situation at some point. Employees of the terminal may be the cause of this as well. Keep in mind that something like this could happen to your cargo, so don’t overlook the option of insurance. In addition, certain insurance companies cover the risk of late cargo delivery as a result of certain occurrences as well.

5. Difficulty getting through customs

There are other factors that could delay the delivery of your cargo, such as the apprehension of containers. There are at least two customs posts between the two countries, and even more, if the container is transshipped at a port. For example, if you’re moving to Denmark from the US, your shipment will pass through at least 4 customs posts. If your cargo is flagged for inspection by customs officials at the port of transshipment, the process could be further delayed. If you’re doing business in countries with a high level of corruption, you should definitely pay attention to this point. At the very least, ensure that all of your paperwork is in order.

soldiers on tanks
Although not that common, it is possible that all ships will be instructed to go back due to a military operation.

6. Military operations

Despite the fact that armed conflicts are considered to be extremely rare, they can still cause serious problems – just take a look at the current situation in Ukraine. First actions of such events can block or close the channel, which already has your cargo or through which it follows, or close the port. The only other option is to avoid shipping through areas where there is a higher than average risk of conflict by purchasing war risk insurance.

However, if you’re in need of reliable international moving services and you’re not moving to Ukraine, feel free to contact us at Transparent International for help. We’ll try our best to avoid all of these causes of delays with ocean freight and deliver your stuff to you the fastest way possible.


Latest Posts

What Our Customer Say

Quote Logo Stars Logo

I got a job in France and I needed to relocate my things and they did a great job. Also, they kept it real close to the estimated costs. I definitely will use their service in the future and definitely recommend their services to my friends and family.

- Maritza C.

Quote Logo Stars Logo

If you want a job well done without breaking your back or a sweat then these are your guys. It's stressful enough making a large move but this team really broke their backs (pun intended) to make sure I didn't. I highly recommend their services, truly a stand up team.

- Dannelly R.