By Leo Ryan, Editor
Huge vessel backlogs at the largest port complex in the United States at Los Angeles/Long Beach are continuing unabated due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on waterfront productivity coinciding with high consumer demand from American citizens for home improvement products and office equipment. Captain Kip Louttit, Executive Director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, reported that the 62 vessels at berth Monday broke a former record – as did 32 containerships at berth.
With a total of 46 vessels at anchor, he said “we are essentially full but have a few open anchorages off both LA/LB and Huntingdon.”
The overall trend, he added, was “roughly steady and should not need drift areas.” Total ships in port has climbed to 108, with container vessels accounting for 62.
Over the next three days, pending arrivals are 42 ships – five more than the average of 37 based on 2018-2019 per-COVID levels.
According to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, there have been more than 600 known cases and 12 deaths among longshore workers since December 1. Skilled equipment operators are especially in short supply.
Container dwell times at the 12 terminals in the giant port complex are averaging close to five days, versus 2.5 days in the first half of 2020. Vessel delays are exceeding 7 days.
For their part, terminal operators consider they won’t see any significant reduction of the congestion until late in the spring – helped hopefully by massive vaccine distribution amongst dockers, truckers and warehouse staffers.
Meanwhile, there have been no major moves thus far by global carriers to divert their calls to other ports in the Pacific Northwest, including Vancouver and Prince Rupert in Canada, although pressure is mounting daily. However, some trans-Pacific carriers have begun to reduce their calls until volumes subside. (photo Marine Exchange of Southern California)