Backlog of Container Ships at California Port Reaches Record High

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
November 10, 2021 Updated: November 10, 2021

The backlog of container ships at ports along Southern California’s coast has reached record highs despite the Biden administration’s push last month to get goods moving 24 hours a day, according to recent data.

The supply-chain bottlenecks show little sign of easing, according to data from the Marine Exchange released Tuesday, which reveal that there are now a total of 111 container vessels waiting outside the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

That’s up from a prior record of 108 container ships reported on Oct. 21, Business Insider first reported.

The numbers continue to remain at all-time highs despite efforts from President Joe Biden in October to alleviate supply shortages and disruptions before Christmas, by pushing California ports to move to 24/7 operations.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California meanwhile have said that they would, beginning this month, fine ocean carriers for containers that linger at port terminals.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was unusual for more than one container vessel to be lingering at the major port complex, which handles more than half of all U.S. imports, according to Reuters.

Addressing the issue last month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that there is “serious progress” being made in dealing with supply chain bottlenecks at the two major ports, despite conflicting data.

“We’re going to continue to evaluate steps that need to be taken in order to move toward a 24/7 global supply chain,” Psaki told reporters at the time, adding the White House will continue to push to “expedite the moving of goods” across the country.

Psaki again repeated a claim from other Biden administration officials that there has been “so much traffic in a lot of these ports is because there are more goods that are being ordered by people across the country,” asserting the phenomenon is, in part, due to the economy.

The press secretary also did not touch on reports of surges of panic-buying and panic-ordering by both retailers and customers, which might be driving up demand for goods.

In recent weeks, some retailers and analysts have issued warnings to Americans that they might not be able to purchase their Christmas goods or that their items won’t arrive on time.

“These issues go through the entire chain, from ship to shelf,” Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, told ABC7 last month. “That’s why we’re not just working with the ports. It’s the truckers, the rail companies, the operators, and also those retail companies that are at the other end of those supply chains.”

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.