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December 13, 2010 1:00 PM, EST

Shippers Cite Concerns on FMC Investigation of Ocean Carriers

A shipper group has expressed “profound disappointment” over a so-called fact-finding investigation by the Federal Maritime Commission into numerous U.S. importer and exporter complaints about “perceived malpractices” by ocean carriers that resulted in supply-chain service disruptions and rate and surcharge increases in late 2009 and 2010.

National Industrial Transportation League President Bruce Carlton said FMC’s “Fact Finding Investigation No. 26” was lacking in facts and analysis of a “flood of complaints” the agency received from shippers over high rates and service disruptions largely resulting from shrinking ocean carrier capacity to respond to a decline in container traffic.

“The commission appears to have concluded that these problems were simply a misunderstanding between carriers and their customers,” Carlton said in a statement Friday.

FMC officials did not comment on their nine-month investigation beyond the agency’s Dec. 8 news release, which said the tensions between ocean carriers and their customers resulting from vessel capacity and equipment shortages “revealed a lack of mutual understanding between the parties regarding their contractual obligations.”