The US shipping crisis is not going away as 33 cargo ships float off the coast of Los Angeles waiting to dock. This unfortunate event is due to a supply-chain crisis which has been brewing off the coast of Southern California for many months as massive freighters wait for dock space to open up. The current port delays are near a record high. On this past Friday, 33 ships were anchored off the coast waiting for a spot to open up to unload at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, according to data from the Marine Exchange of Southern California. California ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach account for about one-third of US imports. These ports operate as a primary source of imports from China and have been heavily congested for months. Some of the container ships have been waiting off the shore for weeks, pushing back delivery dates and driving up the cost of transportation. This affects the products of many businesses and consumers. Of the ships waiting to dock, half of them are what Marine Exchange calls “mega-container ships” or ships with the carrying capacity of 10,000 TEUs.
Kip Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California gave insight onto why this problem is happening. “Part of the problem is the ships are double or triple the size of the ships we were seeing 10 or 15 years ago,” Louttit told Business Insider. “They take longer to unload. You need more trucks, more trains, more warehouses to put the cargo.” The ships carry millions of dollars’ worth of hugely popular and necessary imports, including furniture, auto parts, clothes, electronics, and plastics, according to data from the port of Los Angeles. Supplies of these materials could be heavily depleted in the US due to the backlog of ships.
This supply-chain crisis will continue to cause major delays that will trickle all the way down to retailers and local suppliers. So the next time you’re ordering a new couch or clothes or a part for your car from your local small business, don’t be surprised if you have to wait longer than usual for your order.
Thank you for your support of small businesses, we will all make it through the crisis together.