Container ships are stacking up again off Southern California’s jammed ports, as a flood of imports and logjams in domestic logistics networks hit operations at the biggest U.S. gateway for seaborne trade.
Thirty-seven container ships were anchored off the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in recent days, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, the highest number since February, when 40 ships waited there.
Aboard are hundreds of thousands of boxes stuffed with goods bound for manufacturers and retailers as U.S. businesses hustle to restock inventories and prepare for the holiday shopping season. Just a couple of months ago, the number of container ships at anchor in the two ports, which together handle more than a third of all U.S. seaborne imports, had dwindled to nine. In normal times, the number is one, or none.
Leaders of the two ports say the armada of cargo ships is due to surging volumes and unpredictability in global supply chains caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and exacerbated by shippers pulling holiday-season imports forward to avoid delays later.