Monday, October 25, 2021

Los Angeles cargo ship backlog peaks, supply chain issues to last for months

While the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach saw record volumes of cargo volumes and record numbers of container ships waiting to be unloaded in September, the worst of the backlog may be over. However, the impact on the global supply chain is expected to persist for months.

As of September 30, 90 container ships were in port, down from 97 a day earlier, according to Kip Lutitt, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California. A total of 62 container ships were anchored or berthed, and 28 were at berth, down from 33, compared to 64 the day before.

“Fourteen container ships are scheduled to arrive in the next three days, three less than the ‘normal’ level of 17 based on 2018/9 pre-COVID levels,” Lutit told The Epoch Times via email. Is.”

The twin ports saw the arrival of around 412 ships during September, 32 more than expected. In September 2020, only 344 ships arrived.

Due to the record number of ships waiting to unload their cargo in San Pedro Bay, some of these ships are drifting more than 20 miles away from the port.

Yug Times Photos
Ships await arrival at the Port of Los Angeles in Long Beach, Calif., January 12, 2021. (John Fredricks / The Epoch Times)

congestion effect

On average, ships waiting to take off are nine to 12 days away from berth, said Salvatore Mercogliano, an associate professor of history at Campbell University in North Carolina and an assistant professor at the US Merchant Marine Academy.

“By the time they clear this log jam, it’s going to be after Christmas, after New Years,” Mercogliano told The Epoch Times.

One exporter who was loading and shipping at least three ships per week from Los Angeles to Latin and Central America said they now only have three ships every other week, a dramatic reduction for their busy company.

“We’re suddenly reducing capacity by 66 percent, so we can’t ship anymore, every ship is overbooked. It’s a snowball effect,” the owner told The Epoch Times.

The exporter said the trucking company he usually uses has to send his drivers home as his regular business gets cut to a fraction.

He said exporters hoping to fill empty containers to ship overseas have canceled or put on hold orders because they do not know how long it will take to get their goods on the ships to other countries.

One of his customers had to pay for weeks for chassis fees and storage, which he said cost more than sea freight to transport two containers to their destination in Guatemala. Clients had to put their employees on hold because they could not move goods to their Southern California warehouses.

“Pre-Covid it was fine, even during COVID we were not seeing this level of laxity,” he said.

Yug Times Photos
Yug Times Photos
Cargo containers at the Port of Los Angeles on January 12, 2021 in Long Beach, Calif. (John Fredericks/The Epoch Times)

due to backlog

Mercogliano said there are several reasons for the current backlog at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain disruptions, beginning with factory closures in China. Other disasters, such as the six-day closure of the Suez Canal and powerful typhoons in Asia, have also had an impact.

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Subsequently, demand for goods has increased in the United States and other places around the world as people are spending more time at home and ordering goods online.

The nature of shipping has also changed in recent years, with much larger container ships being used. This reduced the cost of freight, making it a habit for people to bring goods from the other side of the world to their doorsteps on demand.

“Large ships, while they can carry more cargo, the edge of the infrastructure was not designed to take it. And so you have these very large ships dumping a lot of cargo on the ground. , ”said Mercogliano. “Roads, railways, trucking can’t take it.”

Subsequently, many shipping companies merged with other large container companies, increasing the volume of traffic to Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“We’ve never seen such a volume of ships in those ports,” Mercogliano said. “For example there are only so many trained longshoremen, there are only so many trained crane operators to work every available crane. Then you have cranes that are usually shut down for maintenance, which also affects the situation. Huh.”

Meanwhile, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are not as automated as many other ports around the world.

“Cargo is being loaded into terminals in East Asia that operate 24/7, while the receiving ports, at least on our end, are not. They are operating in two shifts in LA and Long Beach , and weekends are hit and miss depending on the port and terminal,” Mercogliano said.

In a September 17 release, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles announced that they would be expanding the hours that trucks can pick up and return containers to help ease congestion.

“We are in the midst of a historic surge in cargo, and our terminal operators and other supply chain partners are giving their all to keep this going,” Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said in a September 21 statement. ” “We welcome this pilot project … as the first step towards expanding Gates for round-the-clock operation, and we encourage our cargo owners and trucking partners to try out this innovative program. “

San Pedro Bay ports account for about 40 percent of all cargo containers entering the US each year, as well as about 30 percent of all container exports.

Lynn Hackman


Lynn is a reporter for the Southern California edition of The Epoch Times based in Orange County. He has enjoyed a career spanning over 25 years as a senior level strategic public relations and contingency planning executive. An editor, blogger and columnist, Lynn also has experience as a television and radio show producer and host. For six years, she co-hosted Sunday Brunch with Tom and Lynn on KOCI 101.5 FM. He is also active in the Newport Beach community, serving as Chairman Emeritus of the Newport Beach City Arts Commission, among various positions with other local organizations.


This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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