U.S. ports face peak-season "gridlock plus" as anchorages fill
Around 80 container ships are now at anchor awaiting berths at ports on all three U.S. coastlines, with peak season set to begin in earnest, implying even more congestion ahead.
There is now a myriad of charter carriers introducing vessels into a China-Pacific Southwest service at the same time the large carriers are adding extra loaders, logistics consultant Jon Monroe told American Shipper.
"Expect the West Coast to be slammed the entire month of August. We are entering gridlock plus."
The number of container ships at anchor in San Pedro Bay off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rose back to 30 on July 23 and there were 27 counted on July 30.
The 2021 low was hit on June 18 as fallout from the port closure in Yantian, China further pared arrivals.
The next day delayed cargo started to arrive and import demand heading into peak season brought more ships. Between June 19 and June 23, the number of ships at anchor increased 170 percent.
Data confirms that ships at anchor versus the total has risen back up to 45 to 55 percent, moving in the direction of the 60 to 65 percent peak seen in the first quarter.
The situation in Northern California has improved and as of last Friday, a ship-tracking system showed only three container ships drifting in the Pacific and six at anchor in San Francisco Bay.
Further north, the situation is more complicated. There were 16 ships at various anchorages in the Pacific Northwest awaiting berths in Seattle or Tacoma last Friday.
Over on the East Coast, dredging slowed cargo flow at the Port of Savannah over the last month and data showed there were 17 container ships at anchor off Georgia's Tybee Island on Friday afternoon.
Port of Los Angeles Executive Director, Gene Seroka was right when he said earlier this year that there will still be vessels at anchor as midsummer arrives when terminals pivot to handle the peak season rush.