In the weeks ahead, container ships could face further delays at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach; according to market sources, the ports struggle to handle record volumes while also maintaining safe working conditions.
The Port of Long Beach had an all-time high throughput of 753,081 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, in July. After these peak movements, it eased to 725,610 TEUs in August, still up more than 9% year on year. Some of those volumes were displaced to the adjacent Port of Los Angeles, which posted its own all-time high volume at 961,833 TEUs in August.
Amid the influx of cargoes shipped ahead of China's Golden Week holiday ending October 7, shipowners may have little alternative but to accept delays at North America's two largest ports until volumes begin to taper off.
According to spglobal.com¸ the ports, which handle about 37% of all waterborne US imports and more than 60% of cargoes coming from China, have had to deploy about a third fewer longshoremen and other workers to maintain social distancing protocols during the coronavirus pandemic.