Key US ports have experienced the worst bottlenecks in over a decade during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Major Southern California ports have also hit the fourth record in less than three weeks with delays in shipping surging past earlier COVID-19 pandemic levels.
Monday saw 56 cargo ships stuck, waiting to anchor or in drift areas off Long Beach and Los Angeles ports. At present, the ports are dealing with about 140 ships. The number also includes 87 freighters.
Late August, ports hit an all-time high. The situation, never experienced before, was brought about with the pandemic and as the onset of panic-buying wreaked havoc on supply chains worldwide.
The queue has resulted from disruptions related to COVID, and holiday-buying surges, paired with a national labor shortage. Data derived from the port of Los Angeles indicates that the average wait time of ships’ has increased to approximately 8.5 days. The usual number of ships waiting to anchor is zero to one.
California ports in Long Beach (LB) and Los Angeles (LA) are responsible for about one-third of total US imports. The ports act as primary sources of imports from China. As a result, these have experienced extreme congestion during the ongoing pandemic.
While container ships are now compelled to anchor while awaiting berth space, firms that are exporting and importing goods from and to Asia are expecting additional delays and significantly higher costs of transportation. To combat elevated costs, many firms have opted for price hikes.
Voyages are taking about 30 days longer than what had been recorded in previous years. This is owing to port congestions, delays in container handling, and some other factors.
Irrespective of the record levels of ships in ports, at anchor, and in drift areas, the Marine Transportation System in LB and LA continues to be reliable, safe, and environmentally sound. It is, however, not as efficient as it needs to be due to stringent COVID protocols in these unsettled times.