Container Ship Backup Comes to an End in Long Beach


As has been discussed on More Than Shipping, the backup of container ships off the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA was one the biggest problems of U.S. supply chain congestion during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, though, it’s just disappeared thanks to a drastic decline in import demand nationally.

The Wait Time

The queue of ships waiting to unload at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach fell from a peak of 109 ships in January to four vessels last week, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

The biggest impact came from fewer containers reaching U.S. seaports for containerized imports. U.S. import volumes are declining, according to trade data analysts, compounded by a growing share of shipments that are heading to ports on the East and Gulf Coasts of the country.

By the Numbers

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together handled 686,133 loaded import containers in September, down 18% from a year earlier and the lowest level since June 2020, according to port figures. August imports fell 12% from last year, a steep drop during the traditional peak shipping season.

Also, statistics shows that containerized imports to the U.S. in September declined by 11% from a year earlier and by 12% from August.

Meanwhile, the cost of shipping a container from China to the United States has fallen below $3,000 compared to last year’s high of around $20,000.