Truck access crisis eases after Maersk cyberattack

By John Bendel, Land Line editor-at-large | 7/21/2017

The worst appears to be over at Port Elizabeth, N.J., where a computer malware attack caused two weeks of massive truck backups at the APM Terminal, the second-largest container facility in the port.

“Things are moving well back to normal,” said Giovanni Antonucci, manager – client services at the Port Elizabeth terminal.

APM, which operates port facilities worldwide for the Maersk container line, was crippled by the computer malware that attacked Maersk corporate offices in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 27.

“Wait times were still longer than normal,” said Tom Adamski of First Coast Logistics who represents the New Jersey Motor Truck Association in the port. “But from the out-house it has been, things are substantially better.”

Adamski reported Thursday that delays were down to an hour or two.

Port Elizabeth was completely closed to truck traffic for two days, Thursday, June 28, and Friday, June 29. When it reopened on the morning of Monday, July 3, computers at the gates were still down. Clerks checked containers in and out on paper, causing the enormous backup.

The company reverted to old-fashioned paper record-keeping with carbon paper forms. “Some of the younger people had no idea what carbon paper was,” Adamski noted.

Trucks lined up for miles, forcing the Port Authority to create an off-street staging area for waiting trucks. The Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers charged that the backup at the APM terminal was causing holdups at the other port facilities and called the situation “dire.” Bi-State also said that wait times were resulting in significant hours-of-service problems for drivers, most of whom are owner-operators not paid for lost time.

Some trucks waited up to six hours to enter the terminal, and even that did not guarantee success. Some were turned away because containers were still unavailable or they couldn't be found on the property.

Adamski said drivers and carriers suffered enormous losses during the crisis, estimating it cost many companies up to $100 per hour, per truck.

“Considering the thousands of trucks involved, the losses are incalculable,” he said.

Bi-State did not respond to a request for comment.

Computers were working at all APM gates by Monday, July 17, Adamski said. About the same time, the Port Authority closed the emergency truck holding area it had set up almost three weeks earlier.

Even so, as of Thursday APM was still operating on an extended schedule, staying open until 7 p.m.

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