Scale of California shipping delays exposed in new video

25 container ships at berth in Los Angeles/Long Beach and thirty-two container ships at anchorage — highlight the scale of the Covid-19 delays.

Footage captured by the U.S. Coast Guard video shows just how bad the back-log and traffic remains in America. The data and video highlights the historic container-ship traffic jam off California’s coast and how there is no sign of it abating.

As of Thursday, there were 25 container ships at berth in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Thirty-two container ships were at anchorage. That’s roughly the same level that has been at anchor since the beginning of this year. (The record of 40 container ships at anchor was hit on Feb 1).

The numbers confirm that some vessels are spending almost as much time at anchor as it takes to traverse the Pacific Ocean. Have a look at the video below:


Why is the traffic jam still so bad?

Extended anchorage times have forced some ocean carriers to cancel multiple sailings this month. This isn’t due to a lack of demand but a lack of available ships to handle those services.

The majority of delays are occurring on the landside with extremely high inbound volumes combined with logistical complications, with COVID infections among dockworking and subsequent protocols still a major issue.


Charting the congestion


American Shipper data shows container ships at anchor already exceeds the number during the labor dispute between the ILWU and their employers in 2014-15.

The data shows that the number of container ships at berth started to ramp up in July. A steady rise in the number of ships at anchor began in November.

By year end, the number of container ships at anchor had risen to 30. It has remained between the high 20s and up to 40 ships ever since.


The knock-on effect?

Lauren Brand, president of the National Association of Waterfront Employers, testified at a House subcommittee hearing on Tuesday that ships currently offshore hold around 190,000 truckloads of goods.

“Right now, there are containers holding parts for manufacturing and assembly sites in the United States. We’re going to see some of those start to falter in their schedules the longer this goes on.

“I asked one of my local retailers, Chico’s, if they had certain spring colors. They said ‘no,’ because they were stuck at the port,” said Brand.

“We’re seeing a decline in the fashion market. Maybe some Valentine’s Day goods are stuck. We’ll see Easter goods getting stuck. And we’ll see things that are actually arriving too late to go to market. So, there will be an economic impact, from consumer goods to manufacturing.”

 As a leading freight forwarding provider in Australia, at ACF we’re committed to providing our customers with critical trade, freight and cargo updates. This article was a condensed version of correspondence from Freightwaves. Keep checking in for the latest news.