The number of ships at anchor, waiting for berth space to open up at America’s two largest boxports has hit a new record today with more than 40 ships now forming queues further and further away from the terminals at Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The extraordinary congestion seen at America’s main two west coast ports is far worse than the port lockout days of 2002 and 2004.
When the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were locked out for 10 days and eight days in 2002 and 2004 respectively, ship queues never exceeded 30 vessels, and yet the the port lockdowns caused significant economic chaos. The situation today is far more grave.
Splash has identified 41 containerships at or near to the San Pedro anchorage awaiting a berth today in a peak season like none other in the 65-year history of containerisation.
The Los Angeles port data for August showed that 90% of vessels headed straight to anchor, joining a queue averaging 7.8 days of anchor time.
Peter Sand, chief shipping economist at global shipowning organisation BIMCO, told Splash: “Shippers, some of which are already low on inventories, are frontloading to secure goods in stock for upcoming key sales seasons such as Black Friday and Christmas.”
Sand said longshoremen at both ports have been unable to get containers out of the port – loaded inbound as well as empties outbound – fast enough.
“As yard density is now quite high, the efficiency of the logistics comes down,” Sand explained.
A lack of chassis across the US is also making the line of ships waiting longer.