Explaining Short Ship and Short Land

shipping and loading

Nobody wants to hear that a shipping container from an ocean going vessel has been left behind or missed being shipped out. If it does happen to you, there are two terms that might crop up that can be confusing. Both terms are bad, but they mean very different things.

Here is an explanation of each, and a list of reasons why the situation occurred.

Containers That are Short Land

A container that is short land means that it has been left onboard a shipping vessel in spite of the vessel arriving at the port of call that the container was meant to be unloaded at. The decision is typically made by the captain of the vessel if one of the following situations have occurred.

  • If the vessel is horribly behind schedule it may have to do what is known in the shipping business as a “cut and run.” This means that even though unloading operations have not been completed, the vessel must go in order to make later legs in its schedule. There are many reasons this could occur. Bad weather at the port, an accident or issues with the dock staff can all lead to delays that the ship cannot accept in their schedule.
  • Inconsistencies in documentation can lead to a short land. For instance, if the manifest called for the shipping container to be discharged at Los Angeles, but the ship’s manifest showed that it was supposed to be discharged at Vancouver.
  • If a consignee of a container was required to be at the port to accept the delivery but did not show up in time, then the port may not accept the container. This forces it to be left on board the shipping vessel.

Containers that are Short Ship

Short Ship containers are ones that are left on the dock when the vessel leaves. These are containers that have arrived at the port on time and are scheduled to be loaded onto the vessel but are not. Some of the reasons for this might be:

  • Just like with short land, the vessel may have to cut and run to meet schedule. All of the same delays that could occur above could happen here to make a vessel leave without scheduled cargo.
  • The shipping line is instructed to not load the container due to an issue with customs paperwork. Many countries will not allow a container to leave until all customs paperwork is properly processed and filed.
  • Improper staging of the shipping container can also lead to short ship status. If a trucking company leaves the container in a different part of the port than the shipping line is used to working from, the container may be left as the shipping line cannot find it to load it.
  • The ship has been overloaded and there is no space left on board the vessel for the cargo.

To avoid these types of issues, contact experts in transloading. Cratex Group can help with all your shipping and transloading needs.