The number of vessels waiting to call Los Angeles-Long Beach terminals has hit an all-time high, with 61 container ships currently queued off the California coast. With all anchorages in the San Pedro Bay filled, at least 21 vessels are forced to drift, while still more continue to arrive and push that number higher.
According to port authorities, the average dwell time for a container at LAX is now around 6 days while waiting to be pulled from the port. The increased vessel congestion is largely due to added container services that call Los Angeles. In order to relieve vessel space constraints on the Transpacific market, carriers added unplanned vessels ("extra loaders") to service rotations. The LA-LGB port complex, however, cannot increase its land-side capacity to accommodate the extra volume. The port seems to be able to consistently handle between 27-31 vessels at berth per day. On Wednesday, the total vessels at berth and waiting off port hit 91 total.
As with the LA-LGB congestion problem experienced earlier this year, carriers are beginning to implement more blank sailings, hoping to slow the flow of volume enough for the port to clear the backlog. Shippers can expect lengthy schedule delays for LA-bound containers, as well as increased congestion at other west coast ports as importers pivot to alternate routings.
OTS will continue to monitor the situation and update our customers accordingly. Please contact your OTS sales representative with any questions you may have.