Despite a recent—albeit fleeting—improvement in the chronic congestion plaguing the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach for weeks, the number of vessels anchored or drifting in the San Pedro Bay Port Complex waiting to berth continues to stay at or near record highs.
On Wednesday (Feb 17), the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported a total 113 vessels in-port, tying the all-time record. Of that total, 59 vessels were at anchor and 54 were at berth. This includes all vessels types: tankers, cruise ships and container ships.
As of Thursday afternoon, a total 108 vessels were in-port, with 52 at anchor and 56 at berth.
Container vessels comprised 59 of the total number of vessels in-port, with 32 at anchor and 27 at berth.
Typically, there are “zero to one” vessels at anchor, said Captain Kip Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which illustrates just how extreme the congestion is at the ports of LA/LB.
During a call with Captain Louttit on Thursday morning, he said it’s “steady as she goes” with regards to congestion—in other words, not much is changing right now.
Over the next three days, 22 vessels are scheduled to arrive and anchor, while 29 vessels are scheduled to shift from anchor to berth, which “should reduce pressure on the anchorages,” according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California’s daily report.
Captain Louttit explained that the terminals are working the vessels as quickly as they can, but they’re at the limit of what’s possible in terms of physical infrastructure and terminal handling equipment.
At the same time, the Port of L.A.’s Executive Director, Gene Seroka, said during a press conference this week that container terminals, warehouses, and truck and rail are all “stretched thin.”
Container dwell time on the terminals is about five days, or twice what it was before the import surge started last summer, said Seroka, and street dwell time is currently at 7.6 days for a standard 40-foot container.
Meanwhile, some container lines are diverting vessels northward to Oakland or other U.S. West Coast ports to at least keep cargo moving.
Waiting…and waiting: One container ship (whose name shall remain anonymous) has been at anchor in the San Pedro Bay since its arrival on February 9. Ouch.