Those numbers are not play calls on a football field. They are the number of ships idle in Los Angeles/Long Beach and Oakland as well as the number of days ships are waiting to berth in Oakland, in that order.

The resulting congestion is real and cannot be placed at the feet the cargo owner. The fact is…

  • The ships are huge, and the ships are full.
  • Land side operations are unable to keep up with the volumes discharged from these ships.
  • Labor is running at 88%-90% of normal needs, but 100% of normal would still not be enough to work the vessels and yards efficiently.
  • Export bookings are difficult to come by, and ocean carriers are metering their true acceptance of bookings by shortening the receiving window to a day and a half…after containers have been loaded and waiting for two weeks or more to return.
  • Export cargo is being diverted to East and Gulf Coast ports.
  • The unevenness in ship calls and cargo availability strains an already over-taxed network.
  • Ocean carriers are assessing exorbitant demurrage and per diem penalties rather than work to fix, much less even acknowledge, a broken system.
  • Chassis are in short supply.
  • This level of frenzy may continue for the rest of 2021.

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We have lived through lockouts, labor shortages and slowdowns, busy seasons, strong economies, but we have never lived through anything like this before. And, we are not on the other side yet!

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