Up to 105 ships are reported to be awaiting berthing spots for unloading at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, according to a report by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. In late August, the number was 44, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic. Outside all major US ports, there are up to 146 ships waiting.
The report cites “long-term infrastructure plans for deepening additional ports and shipping lanes to better accommodate today’s larger container ships” as key factors, adding that the continuing high truck rates and lack of available drivers, along with winter weather, consumer stockpiling, and the spike in virus rates caused by the Omicron variant, are all contributing factors to empty store shelves across the country.
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 experienced heavy congestion throughout the pandemic.