Container Vessel Dwell Times

At the top 25 U.S. container ports, the average container vessel annual dwell time was estimated at 34.6 hours in 2022, up about 2.6 hours from 32.0 hours in 2021. Overall, as shown in the following figure, dwell times for container vessels fluctuated monthly, though dwell times increased steadily since January 2021, peaked in the second quarter of 2022, and have been slowly decreasing through 2023. Container vessel dwell times were at an estimated low of 26 hours in May 2020, reaching an estimated peak of 37 hours in May 2022. [1] Average container vessel dwell times for individual ports are shown online Port Profiles.
The distribution of the dwell times in the figure below demonstrate the variability in dwell time, specifically the long “tail.” Typically, consistent container vessel dwell times are ideal, but the figure below shows a long tail (e.g., dwell times greater than fifty six hours). In terms of port performance, this long tail indicates irregular container vessel calls with less consistent and longer dwell times. Furthermore, the comparison between the 2021 and 2022 distributions suggest that more vessels dwelled longer in 2022 than in 2021. For example, about 11 percent of the vessels dwelled between 40 and 56 hours (about 2 and a half days) in 2021, but this number increased to 14.5 percent in 2022. On the other hand, in 2022, 38.8 percent of vessels dwelled between 8 and 24 hours, a sharp decline from the 52.4 percent of vessels in 2020.
[1] U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, calculated using AIS data from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS) archive, processed by U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, through the AIS Analysis Package (AISAP) software package, as of November 2023.