California’s San Pedro Bay ports are aiming to move 40 percent of stranded containers by Sunday, officials say, amid a historic ship logjam that’s threatening to derail holiday shopping and supply chain issues across the U.S.
‘Santa’s going to need a little extra help this year,’ Port of Long Beach chief operating officer Noel Hacegaba told DailyMail.com on Wednesday. ‘We recognize that 40 percent is a big number, and it will require an unprecedented, coordinated effort, but it must be done.’
The Los Angeles and Long Beach ports – which move about 40 percent of shipped cargo entering the U.S. – are struggling with an unprecedented backlog that’s slowing the nation’s overall supply chain ahead of the holidays.
The Biden administration has come under fire for its ‘too little, too late’ response to the backlog after it announced West Coast shipping ports would be running around the clock to ease bottlenecks in the system.
The Marine Exchange of Southern California reported 105 vessels at anchor October 26, including 77 container ships carrying an estimated $6billion in goods
Containers are seen on a container ship docked at Long Beach Ports in Los Angeles, California, United States on October 14, 2021.
Despite White House efforts, port officials have struggled to keep pace with the inflow of goods as abandoned empty containers create congestion.
LA and Long Beach port officials previously said that they’ll bill carriers $100 for each day their containers linger starting November 1.
Hacegaba said the 50,000 containers they hope to move by Sunday are among containers that have been sitting at the terminal for nine days or more. Containers that leave the terminal on the train will be fined for sitting six days or more.
‘When you put those two categories together, we estimate that that’s roughly 40% of all the containers that are sitting on the terminals today,’ Hacegaba said.
‘Santa’s going to need a little extra help this year,’ Port of Long Beach chief operating officer Noel Hacegaba told DailyMail.com
Officials are aiming to move 40percent of containers lingering at the ports by Sunday
‘The objective is to get those containers that have been dwelling on the terminal for that number of days to be evacuated as soon as possible.’
As of Wednesday morning, there were 77 container vessels at anchor carrying an estimated 600,000 container units.
‘We need immediate action,’ Hacegaba said. ‘We need to bring those ships to berth as quickly as possible. We need boxes out of our terminal to make room for those boxes sitting out on ships.’
The Los Angeles and Long Beach ports – which move about 40 per cent of shipped cargo entering the US – are struggling with an historic container ship backlog
By his estimates, there is about $6billion in goods queuing to unload right now.
Stepping up efforts to evacuate lingering containers is the latest step port and government officials have taken to alleviate the supply backlog.
About 65 vacant acres of vacant land was made available to park empty containers, and the port has expanded operations by opening earlier and closing later.
One terminal is open 24hours a day, four days a week, while other terminals are open Friday nights and weekends.
‘We need to continue to find ways to move containers out of our terminal to make space for those containers sitting,’ he said.
‘If we can evacuate 40% of containers it would make a significant dent and it will be able to significantly improve velocity. And that’s what we need right now.’
A steady stream of transports is coming and going to keep the movement of commerce flowing near the ports
Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said during a Wednesday press conference that the priority was making space for the filled containers and waiting ships.
‘We need to take bold measures to address very, very serious situation,’ Cordero told reporters.
He said the port will continue working with stakeholders – particularly carriers – to ensure a slow flow of cargo at the terminals.
Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said ‘bold measures’ are needed to alleviate the logjam
‘Let’s not debate what we cannot do. Let’s come together and think what we can do because this is a crisis,’ he said.
‘And not to be cliche, but crisis does bring opportunities, and I see opportunities here that we could accomplish here at the nation’s largest port complex.
Officials have previously said that thousands of empty shipping containers sitting at the port are creating a nightmare for truckers trying to move product.
Right now, the mass congestion of empty containers is monopolizing space in nearby truck lots, blocking filled containers from getting moved, and crippling efficiency.
Weston LaBar, head of strategy at Cargomatic, said cities surrounding the Southern California ports need to do more to support shipping operations
In order to fetch a new order at the port, trucks must first return their previously-used container to the steamships – but with space at a premium, cargo operators are refusing to accept the empty containers.
‘What we’re seeing in [Long Beach and L.A.] is really an issue around productivity, not necessarily a lack of drivers,’ Matt Schrap, chief executive of the Harbor Trucking Association, told DailyMail.com.
‘It’s a function of our inability to return empty containers back into the port to pull the important loads off the docks.’
But Weston LaBar, head of strategy at Cargomatic, said the containers aren’t just coming from California ships – empty units are being brought to Southern California from other ports in Texas, Savannah, and even Canada, he said.
He said the empties are being brough there because it’s the fastest way to get them back to Asia, where there’s a container shortage.
‘Especially this time of year, the goal was to get containers back to Asia as quickly as possible so you can load them with imports back to the United States,’ LaBar told DailyMail.com. ‘And it just so happens that this year, returning empty containers is extremely difficult and has been since the impacts of the pandemic began.
A group of 160 Republican lawmakers have addressed the importance of fixing the supply chain crisis in a letter to President Joe Biden while attacking his embattled spending proposals.
The letter, led and signed by Representative Sam Graves, was sent to Biden on Wednesday in an attempt to further address the urgency of the crisis.
LaBar said cities surrounding the Southern California ports need to do more to support shipping operations.
‘We need to look at the supply chain in a holistic fashion,’ he said. ‘And the biggest problem is that people look at the port as an independent ecosystem, but it’s reliant.
‘The supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link and right now the weak link is that the inland infrastructure is at capacity. It’s over capacity.’
He said the real call to action must be to the Biden administration, elected officials, and city bureaucrats.
‘The port itself is not the problem,’ LaBar said. ‘It’s everything that’s linked to it.’