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Anchorages full as LA/Long Beach boxship queues approach record levels

More than 100 containerships are either in port or at anchor outside Los Angeles or Long Beach, waiting for a berth to come free, as congestion levels at the southern Californian gateway worsen. A growing number of bulk carriers are also caught up in the backlog, together with some tankers.

One containership, the Maersk-operated 4,600 teu Northern Promotion (IMO: 9467043), has been at anchor since July 26, while the 13,000 teu Maersk Emden (IMO: 9456769) has been waiting to dock since August 2. Sister ship Maersk Endhoven arrived in the anchorage on August 9. Another of the larger ships now waiting in San Pedro Bay is the 11,100 teu MSC Josseline (IMO: 9842062), according to latest data from the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

Source: Marine Exchange of Southern California

In all, 37 containerships were at anchor over the weekend, just one short of the previous record reached, of which 15 have capacities in excess of 10,000 teu. Together with other ship types, vessels at anchor totalled 65 on Sunday, a drop from Saturday's all-time high of 68. As well as waiting in anchorages outside the adjacent ports and off Huntingdon Beach, five ships were in assigned drift areas.

The latest backlog of ships waiting to offload their cargo comes at a time of continued delays on the other side of the Pacific where Ningbo has shut a terminal to contain a local Covid outbreak.

In the US, the surge in import volumes in recent months has backed up supply chains across the country, with port delays now almost routine. In total, 65 containerships were in the ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach on Sunday. This was down one from Saturday, and just two short of the record 67 seen in January, with 28 berthed. Up to 30 vessels are scheduled to arrive in southern California over the next three days, according to the Marine Exchange, of which 10 are boxships.

Taking all vessel types to account, a record 125 were in the two ports on Friday, dipping just slightly to 123 on Saturday and then 118 on Sunday. During months of congestion in 2014-15 that coincided with negotiations on a new labour contract, and the introduction of global alliances, a peak of 28 boxships at anchor was touched at one stage. Last February, a high of 40 was recorded.

Source: Maritime Interlligence

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