Cargo vessels diverted away from UK as supply crisis deepens

The container ship 'CSCL Atlantic Ocean' is docked at the Port of Felixstowe, east of London on March 4, 2021. (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk said Tuesday it had started to divert vessels away from Britain’s biggest container port because of congestion, the latest fallout from multiple crises hitting the UK.

The country is suffering runaway energy prices, shortages of goods, fuel delivery issues and a worsening long-term shortage of lorry drivers, with post-Brexit immigration controls and the pandemic among the causes cited by experts.

Felixstowe in eastern England has been particularly hard hit, prompting Maersk to divert one ship each week out of the usual two or three that call there.

A company spokeswoman said the ships, each carrying thousands of containers, were being redirected to continental ports such as Rotterdam and Antwerp.

Cargo would then be loaded onto smaller vessels to dock at other British ports or at Felixstowe when space opens up.

The spokeswoman said the firm was committed to getting goods to Britain for Black Friday and Christmas.

Maersk official Lars Mikael Jensen said the driver shortage had slowed down container movements at Felixstowe, which deals with just over one-third of UK freight container volumes.

“We are having to deviate some of the bigger ships away from Felixstowe and relay some of the smaller ships for the cargo,” he said.

“We did it for a little while over the summer and now we’re starting to do it again.”