Backlog of vessels in the US is hurting schedules

In COVID-19 Delays Posted February 8, 2021 at 3:30 pm
By David Thatcher

Backlog of vessels in the US is hurting schedules

IFCBAA has advised freight forwarders of a major backlog of vessels in Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

The record backlog is due to a constellation of events; bad weather, record cargo and a surge in positive COVID-19

Both ports have battled to fend off bottlenecks caused by surging volumes – up 50% in the last half of 2020.

Complicating the high volumes are increasing COVID-19 cases hitting longshore workers. Infections since December 2020
and in the first 25 days of 2021 have “almost surpassed the total cases reported in the final eight months in 2020,”
according to Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield.

Some 800 longshoremen and women of the workforce of 15,000 have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are in

The Loadstar and Alphaliner are reporting that the capacity of the 27 ships berthed and 41 at anchorage at the San
Pedro Bay ports is around 579,100teu as of last Monday. 336,500 of this is idle and waiting up to 2 weeks for a berth.

The chronic backlog of vessels impacting Southern California is also hobbling the restitution of empty containers
back to Asia. This logjam in the supply chain is further restricting the availability of boxes for US export loads and
the rest of the world’s supply chains.

For months carriers have been prioritising the return of empty equipment back to Asia instead of making them
available to US exporters, but many boxes are instead stranded on the quay or stuck in export holding areas.

Anecdotal feedback from an IFCBAA member’s USA agent

“Crazy thing is better than last week…. Also, East Coast pretty bad as well. We don’t have an anchor map, but
they had to shut terminals yesterday due to bad weather. Next week Midwest has a cold front coming in expecting to
create a major impact to truckers adding to the backlog…. Rails too are experiencing a lot of delays and some not
accepting any more containers until they can resolve some of the backlogs at the ports due to no drivers and

Everyone is saying the worse congestion in history at the ports … Understand you guys are having a tough time as
well… Not that misery loves company, but I am sure you can relate…

Very difficult to keep up with all the changes happening, finding drivers, and dealing with cancelled
bookings/vessels and drivers waiting hours in line to only get to gates and told no equipment. INSANE!

But we will get through this, we always do… just need to keep customers informed so they aren’t surprised of
delays… At this time no booking, vessel or routing is guaranteed.”

Impacts on Australian services

We are happy to advise that the Pacific Coast Express direct service to Australia, shared by ANL, CMA CGM, Maersk,
Hamburg Sud and Hapag Lloyd is not reporting delays at this time.

We are in close contact with our USA partner offices for regular updates on the impact of the vessel backlog.
Should it impact any of our shipments will notify clients directly.

Further information:

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