What’s Going On In America’s Largest Port?


What's Going On In America's Largest Port?

If you have been paying close attention to the news, you have probably heard rumblings about a logjam that’s taking place right now in the U.S.’s largest port in Los Angeles.

As of Tuesday, there were reportedly 62 ships waiting to unload there cargo either in LA or Long Beach. It’s estimated that they could be carrying a half a million shipping containers on those ships.

That’s approximately 8,000 containers per ship. I don’t know what kind of ships those are or if they are carrying mostly 20′ or 40′ containers. But I know that many cargo ships can carry a lot more than that 8,000 20′ containers.

Here’s a run down of some of the larger ships and their carrying capacity.

The average carrying capacity of these ships is more than 20,000. That means the amount of ships sitting off the coast of sunny Los Angeles right now could be north of 1 million 20′ containers!

That’s quite a lot of cargo to unload, process, and get trucked out of LA. And there’s the rub … the logjam is caused by what happens when these cargo ships dock and need to be unloaded.

The port of LA is working 24-hours a day right now to try to unload this cargo. There is apparently enough longshoremen to do so — overtime pay, anyone?

But just because you have the ability to unload the cargo, doesn’t mean the receivers of this cargo are ready to accept this cargo 24 hours a day.

In order to move these containers, you need either warehouse space or truckers to take these containers in or haul them to their final destination.

The port of LA has neither of these two things right now. There’s a shortage of truckers nationwide right now and any available warehouse space was maxed out weeks ago.

The result of all this is one gigantic cluster you-know-what. Local residents are fed up with the congestion of trucks in their neighborhood and have resorted to blocking their streets so trucks don’t turn down them or park temporarily.

Officials in LA have been looking for vacant lots to try to get a holding area for these containers before they can be picked up.

What’s causing all of this?

There’s no question that part of the problem is the surge in demand for goods that roared back after everything was temporarily halted during the pandemic. Consumers are buying more instead of spending it services like travel and entertainment. In addition, there are backlogs due to ports closing overseas that now need to be delivered. .

The lesson here is that the global supply chain is a complex, delicate ballet of moving parts. If there’s a delay in any part of the cycle, it causes reverberations around the world that could take months (sometimes years) to itself out.