Analysis of the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Vessel and Cargo Movements in the United States

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19, to be a global pandemic [1]. The virus’ impact on the United States initially began in January 2020 when the President declared the outbreak as a public health emergency, leading to a national emergency declaration on March 13, 2020 [2][3]. As the spread rate of COVID-19 increased and the initial lack of treatment option stressed the national healthcare system, different methods to slow virus transmission were proposed, primarily to give the healthcare system time to prepare units for the COVID-19 cases. The most common were social distancing, face masks, self-isolation, limits on the number of people in indoor environments, and work-from home. Ultimately, the most restrictive were near-total population lockdowns. The global nature of the pandemic and changes to market demands as a result of social distancing, isolation, and lockdowns, had a significant impact on both supply and demand. Not only were overseas manufactures impacted by labor and supply shortages, but domestic demand also experienced considerable changes. For example, fuel demand was drastically decreased while the demand for disinfectants increased. While this example highlights two commodities which experienced significant turmoil during the pandemic era lockdowns, many other goods faced, to varying degrees, similar changes. This research seeks to understand how these changes were manifest in national and international shipping trends. This research will investigate shifts in cargo movements, by commodity for both import and export operations for several ports across the US. This research will also examine changes origin/destination patterns. The National Automatic Identification System (NIAS) data for vessel movements from 2019 – 2021, will facilitate this investigation.


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Funding: $144122
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

      University Transportation Centers Program
      Department of Transportation
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center

      University of Arkansas
      Fayetteville, AR  United States  72701
    • Performing Organizations:

      Louisiana State University

      3660G Patrick F. Taylor Hall
      Civil and Environmental Engineering
      Baton Rouge, LA  United States  70803
    • Principal Investigators:

      Wolshon, Brian

    • Start Date: 20220401
    • Expected Completion Date: 20230930
    • Actual Completion Date: 20230930
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01841199
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747130
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Mar 30 2022 9:48PM