44 container ships are jamming the California Coast

Shipping containers to Europe

According to the record-breaking report of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, 44 marine container ships are jamming the California Coast. They are waiting to enter California’s two largest ports. This has crossed the highest number ever recorded which was 44 in February since the pandemic started. The ship's long queue is the resultant of labor shortage, disruptions due to COVID, and early holiday shopping. According to Port of Los Angeles data, the vessel wait-time maximized to 7.6 days from 6.2 days of last month.

Both the ports are the US hotspots for the import entry of one-third of ships. The goods that the US imports come from China only. As the Christmas season is arriving, the companies are stocking up earlier in the months of August and September. As there has been news that suggests to Christmas shop early to avoid peak season surcharges. In an interview with Business Insider, executive director Kip Loutitt said that the number of cargo container ships waiting outside the ports is usually 1 or 0. One of the reasons that have been one of the major causes of port congestion is ships’ increased size. The vessel has tripled or quadrupled in their sizes. This increase in size makes the loading and unloading time go longer. They need more work power, more container transportation modes, and more container depots and warehouses to accommodate the cargo.

According to Bloomberg, the traffic is increasing at a fast pace due to labor shortages. Inland container transportation is getting affected hugely. As the port workers are not able to remove metal shipping containers fast enough due to the increased ship size. The pandemic-related disruptions are also causing havoc and prolonging the agony. Dollar Tree CEO, Michael Witnynksi, told his investors that one of the vessels was denied entry to China. As one of the crew was COVID positive. The whole charter went back to Indonesia, changed entire crew members, and then started the returning process. This delayed the import by two months as his business depends on the China cargo imports. According to Witnyinksi, one of the freight forwarders from San Francisco stated about the increase in transfer time from 35 to 73 days between Shanghai to Chicago.

Business insider delineated that due to the increase in the port congestion the voyage time has soared to added 30 days. Freightwaves in a report set forth that the imports for Long Beach and Los Angeles will rise more. The prediction of a 37% increase for Long Beach and 49% for Los Angeles by September is on cards. The West Coast alone is not suffering from the issue. Witynski projected that according to Industry experts’ estimates the ocean shipping capacity will normalize not sooner than 2023.

The anchored ships are causing no safety hazard other than a waiting time increase, the Marine Exchange said. The agency enumerated in a statement that vessel traffic services have anchored every ship carefully in drift areas. They are also monitoring it day and night and following standard care.

To avoid port congestion at the busiest ports, one has to know about different ways. Let’s know, how?

  • By diverting the less big ships to other ports, one can sway the long line of idle ships.
  • Despite getting your merchandise in peak seasons, the companies should import the non-perishable goods beforehand.
  • One can use smart containers also, they allow tracking of containers. So, as soon as your cargo container reaches port, you can collect it. This will also avoid port congestion.
  • Expansion of ports can also avoid the problem and will help the shippers in loading and offloading the cargo.
  • One should keep all the documents handy. By doing this, you can avoid demurrage and detention charges and also help in lessening congestion.
  • Keep weather forecasts in mind. As the vessel stuck in bad weather will arrive late along with the other ships who got stuck. This will also lead to increased congestion.

By following certain measures, one can avoid situations that lead to port congestion. It will also save the shipper from extra shipping charges as well.