- The largest ports in the United States hit a new record on Monday as 100 ships wait to dock and unload.
- Ports have broken several records this year as COVID-19 closures respond to a boom in consumer demand.
- Last week, President Biden announced that ports would begin handling ships 24/7.
California ports hit another record, despite Biden’s plan to extend their working hours to reduce the backlog.
According to data from the Maritime exchange, there were a total of 157 vessels registered in and around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Monday, matching a record that was first reached in September. The total number of ships at anchor and in holding areas, waiting to dock and unload in ports, also hit a new record on Monday as 100 ships floated off the coast.
97 of these ships are container ships, sailing at sea outside of these ports and carrying cargo that will likely miss the holiday shopping season. Due to the backlog, freighters often wait several weeks before being unloaded, adding time to a transport delay for goods from Asia which is around 75 days on average between origin and their final destination, according to Freightos data. To date, several container ships have been waiting at anchor since early September, according to data from the Marine Exchange of Southern California.
Before the pandemic, the highest port record had been 17 ships awaiting mooring, Marine Exchange chief Kip Louttit told Insider in an emailed note.
In an interview with CNN on Monday, Gene Seroka, head of the Port of Los Angeles, said Biden’s 24/7 plan was helping him move some of the cargo that had remained on the dock for several days. The White House announced on Wednesday that the Port of LA would follow in its neighbor’s footsteps in Long Beach and operate 24/7 terminals.
“We had 25% of all cargo on our dock for 13 days or more. [and] that’s been cut in about half over the past week, ”Seroka told CNN.
Still, he doesn’t expect supply chain issues to start improving until February 2022, as consumer demand continues to soar. Seroka said the port will most likely have to operate 24/7 until next summer.
Logistics experts have been skeptical whether Biden’s overnight program would have any real impact.
“It’s great that they chose to do something, but we’re talking about a change of less than 1% to 2% here,” Brian Whitlock, supply chain analyst at Gartner, told Insider . “The work they’re talking about here is going to be irrelevant. It probably won’t even be visible.”
In part, that’s because Biden’s plan doesn’t address shortages of truckers and warehouse workers, they say. Moreover, if these workers do not extend their hours as well, there is nowhere to go for the cargo.
“At the moment, we are only shifting the issue further,” former US trade negotiator Harry Broadmen told Insider. “The focus has been on solving problems in ports when that is only part of the equation. The entire supply chain must be synchronized. “
Before the Port of Los Angeles launched 24/7 operations, Seroka said everyone in the supply chain network needed to be ‘on the same page’ to resolve this crisis. – an almost impossible feat. Not only do the shipping terminals themselves require coordinated efforts as they are run by private companies, the movement of goods must also be synchronized with importers, truckers and warehousing companies, which represent divided industries. in a wide variety of small and medium enterprises. medium-sized businesses.