A record 100 ships, including 70 container ships, were now waiting at anchor or in drift zones in San Pedro Bay for entry into either the Port of Los Angeles or Long beach Port.
The number of vessels drifting or anchored off LA / Long Beach had been rising steadily, but then fell back from the previous peak to somewhere in the mid-50s. Now, however, the queue has shot up again.
As of Tuesday October 19th the count stood at 100 vessels, beating last month’s record of 97.
By way of comparison, back in 2014 the fact that 12 vessels were waiting in San Pedro Bay was considered newsworthy and a matter of concern.
There are dozens more in transit on the core transpacific trade lanes, which could mean that the number of waiting ships might rise further. That in turn will reduce the availability of container vessels and containers in other parts of the world, compounding the global dislocations of the international supply chains.
It had been hoped that LA / Long Beach terminal lessees agreeing to transition to 24/7 gate hours, incurring a contractual time-and-a-half wage premium for longshoremen on the night shift, but the impact of this change was expected to be gradual and not a solution in its own right.. This was because there was now a serious backlog in rail yards, truck depots and warehouses.
Residents of Wilmington and Long Beach have noted that trailered containers were now tailing back into residential streets.
Meanwhile, an executive at Philippines-headquartered port operator International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) has said that the world was facing “very prolonged” disruptions to shipping cargo flows. Christian Gonzalez, head of corporate with ICTSI, said that “from a transpacific point of view, it’s going to be quite messy for some time, and it is not something that can be solved by adding more ships into the system. That is going to create a bigger backlog.”