2022 Annual Port Congestion: A Deep Dive Look at the Most Congested Ports of the Year

The last few years have been no stranger to supply chain delays and port congestion, and 2022 was no exception. Between lingering Covid-19 delays, the Ukraine-Russia war, various work stoppages and labor strikes, and shifting volume trends, 2022 was a tumultuous year for port congestion.

Below is a deep dive on the most congested major ports of 2022, with congestion measured by a function of container dwell time.

Overall Annual Congestion


For the year 2022, the port of Charleston leads in export dwell at a median time of 10.39 days. Savannah is not far behind at 8.85 days, and a third United States East Coast port made the list with Norfolk at 6.78 days.

The East Coast of the US is having a hard time getting their exports out in a timely manner due to a trend in shipping out of the East Coast rather than the West Coast. 2022 marked the first year that New York overtook LA for TEUs processed in a month. As this trend continues, ocean carriers will have to adjust scheduling to accommodate growth on the east coast

Export Dwell Annual

We also see both ports in the Shenzhen area of China on the list for export dwell at 6.83 days and 6.39 days. During 2022, China was hit with more Covid lockdowns resulting in disruptions to port operations. With the recent lifting of the country’s Zero Covid policies, we expect to see an initial uptick in issues as Covid-19 cases rise, however this is expected to level out throughout 2023.


While the US East Coast topped the charts for export dwell, West Coast takes the cake for import dwell, with Oakland as the highest median dwell time of 7.16 days, followed by Long Beach at 4.76 days and Los Angeles at 4.57 days. Compared to our findings for Q1 Dwell, there’s been great improvement for import dwell on the East Coast, but the West Coast continues to struggle, supporting many shippers’ decision to divert from the West to East Coast.

Import Dwell Annual

The Port of Bremerhaven in Germany falls at number three on both lists, with 7.68 days for exports and 5.14 days for imports. The Port of Antwerp in Belgium is the only other port to make both lists for imports and exports in 2022, showing that both ports operationally lag.

H2 2022


As mentioned above, the US East Coast has struggled, but quarterly numbers show promising improvement in Charleston. Between Q3 and Q4, Charleston showed a 14.7% decrease in export dwell times and Q4 is nearly 18% lower than the annual median. Savannah, however, has seen a 1.4% increase in export dwell leading to its number one ranking on the Q4 list.

2 H Export Dwell

Another notable improvement is Valencia. This Spanish port dropped from number three to off the list entirely.


Overall, there were promising improvements between Q3 and Q4 import dwell. In Oakland, we see almost a week less for import dwell, and Long Beach and Los Angeles dropped off the top ten list entirely. The West Coast has struggled immensely through the pandemic, and this does appear to be easing.

2 H Import Dwell

Performance in Bremerhaven continues to decline, however, with import dwell increasing 32.6% between Q3 and Q4. Q4 is also 44.7% higher than the overall annual median. Antwerp has shown a small improvement with a 16% decrease, but both ports are still on both the import and export list for most congested in Q3 and Q4.

Key Takeaways

  • Most East Coast dwell times continue to decrease, with the exception of Savannah, showing that overall, they are successfully adapting to the volume that has shifted from the West Coast. The volume shift is also helping the West Coast bring dwell times down, although Oakland specifically still struggles with imports.
  • Dwell in China is expected to increase in the first quarter of 2023 due to Chinese New Year and now relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, but as seen in many countries in 2022, the Covid-19 related delays will level out after a few months.
  • The ports of Bremerhaven and Antwerp have made both import and export lists. Antwerp is showing improvement, but Bremerhaven has yet to recover.

For more findings like these, visit supplychaininsights.project44.com.