Director Asks Cargo Ships to Return to Port of LA as Numbers Decline

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The Port of Los Angeles continues to break cargo records each month but the number of ships waiting to deliver goods has dropped dramatically as shippers continue to divert to other ports around the country.

Only 15 cargo ships were waiting for service at the port Aug. 17, down from a record of 109 reached in January.

The reduction spurred Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka to urge cargo ships to come back to the Southern California port complex instead of waiting in line at other ports.

“At many other ports around the country, ships are waiting for space. Yet here, our terminals have capacity,” Seroka said during a briefing Aug. 17. “So, for cargo owners looking to rechart their course, come to Los Angeles. We’re ready to help.”

The Port of Los Angeles expected an increase in traffic after the Lunar New Year, but the number of cargo ships has continued to dwindle.

“We do know that some vessels may have shifted elsewhere, perhaps concerned that as the peak season begins, it would be crowded,” Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phil Sanfield told The Epoch Times.

The Port of Savannah in Georgia has become one of the preferred ports for shippers this year as operators searched for ways to avoid backlogs. The port reported an 18-percent increase in container movement this month.

“The Port of Savannah has clearly become a preferred East Coast gateway for shippers globally, including cargo diverted from the U.S. West Coast,” said Georgia Port Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch.

The Georgia port is expanding operations and adding infrastructure to accommodate more cargo ships and containers. The port also increased operating hours.

Meanwhile, container wait times at the Los Angeles port continued to grow.

Meanwhile, the time containers remained at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continued to climb and reached the highest levels ever for cargo shipped by rail, according to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association’s latest numbers.

For rail-bound cargo, containers stayed at the port for nearly two weeks before shipment. This was the highest average dwell time since the association started tracking the data last year, and up from 11 days in May.

Truck-bound containers stayed an average of 5.5 days, up slightly from 5.3 days the month before.

“Long dwelling rail cargo on marine terminals negatively impacts terminal capacity and can slow vessel discharge and loading operations,” Jessica Alvarenga, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association spokeswoman, said in a release. “It is important to improve supply chain efficiency by decreasing dwell time.”

The port again processed a record volume of containers last month, officials reported. Over 935,000 containers were moved in July, increasing the previous record set in 2019 by 2.5 percent.

Jill McLaughlin

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