West Coast Port Congestion Hits Record As More Ships Join Queue

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, Aug 28, 2021 - 05:00 PM

New data from Marine Exchange of Southern California & Vessel Traffic Service of Los Angeles and Long Beach ports shows container ship congestion is worsening. 

In three recent notes, "Vessel Congestion At LA Ports Soars As More Ships Join Queue" and "US West Coast Port Congestion At Record High Amid Transpacific Trade Route Disruptions" and "California Congestion Nears New High, East Coast Gridlock Worsens," we highlight the latest rapid build-up of vessels, now reaching record highs and surpassing levels observed earlier this year. 

According to Bloomberg data, 44 container ships were moored at a berth space outside both ports as of Friday evening, surpassing the record of 40 set in early February. Average wait times are on the rise, from 6.2 in mid-August to 7.6 days on Friday. 

A confluence of issues plagues both US West Coast ports, including labor shortages, an influx of sea freight due to seasonal orders, and persistent disruptions across transpacific trade routes.  

During a conference call last week, Mike Witynski, Dollar Tree Inc. CEO, told investors that shipments from Asia were delayed for long periods because of virus-related issues. 

"One of our dedicated charters was recently denied entry into China, because a crew member tested positive for Covid, forcing the vessel to return to Indonesia to change the entire crew before continuing," Witynski said. "Overall, the voyage was delayed by two months."

Also, COVID outbreaks have shut down or limited the capacity of a major marine terminal in China and an air freight terminal in the country. 

Goldman Sachs has explicitly warned that "port closures or stricter control measures at ports could also put further upward pressure on shipping costs, which are already very high."

Shipping costs continue to hit record highs. 

Meanwhile, port congestion is simultaneously building along the US East Coast...