According to Shipping Australia Limited (SAL), there is a massive backlog of empty containers in Sydney and to a lesser extent in other capital city ports in Australia. Ocean shipping companies lose money and revenue-earning opportunities if empty containers are uselessly hanging about in the country. SAL said in a statement announcement that one way to tackle the backlog is the use of “sweeper” vessels, boxships to pick up and take away empty containers.
But the ongoing container disruption in Sydney due to industrial action has resulted in availability issues on additional berth slots, which shipping companies need to bring in the sweeper ships.
There is no point demanding sweeper vessels call in Sydney in the current environment, according to SAL, which explained the situation to container-news.com: "Because it is next to impossible to berth sweepers at Sydney because of congestion. Congestion will have to be worked through before sweepers can call. It’s just as simple as that. On a positive note, there are some signs that this may change in the next month at one terminal at least."