The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) said today that Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye has begun an investigation into port demurrage, detention, and free-time practices by ordering ocean carriers to provide information and documents explaining their behavior.
A similar effort aimed at container terminals at major U.S. ports is underway, according to the agency.
The first phase of Dye's investigation involves gathering information from ocean common carriers and marine terminal operators serving a broad section of container ports located throughout the United States. Carriers have been directed to provide detailed information about their detention and demurrage practices, especially regarding circumstances where shippers are not able to retrieve cargo, the FMC said.
"The ultimate resolution of this investigation will have the potential to affect every ocean common carrier calling the United States. It is vital that the information we gather is representative of business and operational practices, as well as market conditions, nationally," Dye said in a statement.
Dye advised shippers, drayage companies, and other parties that can document specific allegations of unreasonable port detention and demurrage practices and fees to cooperate with the investigation.
"We expect concerned parties to participate robustly in this investigation. Their cooperation is essential," she said.
An interim report of findings and recommendations is due no later than Sept. 2. A final report will be issued to the FMC for consideration, discussion, and vote no later than Dec. 2.