Los Angeles Addresses Backlog and Diverts Ships as Volumes Rise

2021-02-20 16:01:30 International Ports News

Providing its monthly update, the Port of Los Angeles said that with 62 ships currently at anchor and no signs of a let-up in the year-over-year volume increases that the port needs to work with all its constituents and do things differently.

The port currently has enough volume in the anchorage for a month’s worth of work

“All indications point toward a strong flow of imports over the next few months as consumers continue an unprecedented buying surge which began last summer,” said Port of Los Angeles Director Gene Seroka. Acknowledging the delays and the need to keep goods flowing to fuel the U.S. economy, he said that the top priority remains to chip away at the backlog. The port currently has enough volume in the anchorage for a month’s worth of work and with more vessels arriving they need to “meter the cargo,” or the port could continue to have ships at anchor well into the summer of 2021.

In November 2020, the wait time at anchorage was 2.5 days and it has risen to an average of 8 days with 85 percent of ships now going into the anchorage waiting for terminal space.

Asked where the bottleneck was in the supply chain, Seroka said it started with the volumes coming into the ports during a pandemic as well as labor shortages and equipment issues.

 Vessels are spending more time at the dock

The increases in volumes have meant that vessels are spending more time at the dock and terminal utilization has risen above 90 percent signaling that they are running at full capacity. They are also lacking space for the containers. Labor at the port has also been impacted with currently 800 of the 15,000 longshoremen off the job due to illness or quarantines related to COVID-19.

Working slowed by COVID-19 precautions for their employees

Among the efforts designed to help alleviate the backlog are new data tools to aid in planning and increasing efficiencies as well as incentives that the terminals can earn for shortening turn times and more trucks unloading and loading during a single stop at the terminals. The port acknowledges that the terminals are working at or near capacity and have been slowed by COVID-19 precautions for their employees.

High priority to vaccinate 15,000 longshoremen and 80,000 to 85,000 people working at the port

In addition to hiring additional labor, the port is also placing a high priority on vaccinating the 15,000 longshoremen and 80,000 to 85,000 people working with the truckers, rail lines, and terminals at the port. They offered the cruise terminal to serve as a mass inoculation location when the vaccine is available. Last week, Long Beach’s health department made the first 800 doses available for the ports and the union reported the appointments were booked in less than 20 minutes.

“We are grateful to our dock workers, truckers, and terminal operators who have worked every day since the pandemic began to process these record volumes. We will continue to advocate at all levels of government for sufficient supplies to ensure every waterfront worker has a chance to be vaccinated,” said Seroka.

He repeated his calls for action to address American trade policy …The volume of empty containers going out of the port is double the loaded exports, which is also putting strains on the operations.

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