SEKO Logistics tells American Shipper it is expanding its logistics footprint by chartering vessels. The logistics provider began chartering the box ships in July.

“We are looking to charter one or two vessels a month,” explained Brian Bourke, the company’s chief growth officer. “The vessels are carrying in upwards of 1,000 TEUs. We are offering this service to make sure our clients have the capacity to import their products to avoid any additional backlogs.”

Bourke says the decision to start chartering vessels did not come lightly.

“This is not what we typically do,” he said. “We work well with the ocean carriers, but this market has created a lot of unique situations. We decided to test the market with one vessel and the space was gobbled up within hours.”

Additional Asia schedules are being added throughout the rest of 2021 and into early 2022, with 90% of the bookings going to existing clients.

“This situation will not get better until well after Lunar New Year,” said Bourke. “The inventory-to-sales ratio is still going down. Until you see that creep back up, this demand will continue.”

The charters are destined to smaller ports on the West Coast such as Portland, Oregon, and San Diego.

“We want to avoid the Port of Los Angeles as much as possible,” Bourke said. “One of the benefits of a smaller vessel is we can avoid the deepwater ports and the congestion. The smaller ports are great because we can get into port faster. 

“We can also transload our clients’ products quickly onto trucks destined to Detroit, Chicago and all points inland. We are avoiding the rails. It is chaos.”

Bourke said SEKO’s transloading business is up 1,000%.

SEKO’s announcement comes after the news of other shippers like Home Depot that have chartered vessels in an effort to circumvent the logistics congestion.