Dozens of container ships wait off the coast of the congested ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, in Long Beach, California, U.S., September 29, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Amid Record-Breaking Year, Port of Long Beach Throughput Falls Almost 5% in November

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1175
December 9, 2021

During a year where cargo volumes have already broken annual records, the Port of Long Beach moved less cargo in November than it did a year ago.

The Port of Long Beach says it processed nearly 5% less cargo last month than it did in November 2020 as efforts continue to make room for imports.

November’s throughput volumes came in at 745,488 TEU, a 4.9% decline compared to November 2020 when the port reported its busiest November on record. Volumes last month fell across the board compared to November 2020. Imports dropped 5.3% to 362,394 TEUs, while exports decreased 6.4% to 109,821 TEUs, and empty containers fell 3.6% to 273,274 TEUs.

November is now the third month in a row of year-over-year declines. In October, the Port of Long Beach processed 789,716 TEU for a 2.1% decline from October 2020, while September volumes fell nearly 6% to 748,472 TEUs.

The declines come even as dockworkers and terminal operators are on pace to process more than 9 million cargo containers by the end of 2021, surpassing the previous annual record by more than 900,000 TEU. Through November, the Port of Long Beach has processed more than 8.6 million TEU, up over 18% from last year and already surpassing the annual record of 8.1 million TEUs set in 2020.

“Clearing the line of ships waiting to enter our port and moving containers off the docks are our top priorities to ensure shelves are stocked and consumers can purchase gifts during the holiday season,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We are seeing notable improvements toward achieving that goal as we continue to help our supply chain partners catch up and ensure goods are delivered as soon as possible.”

In its announcement, the Port of Long Beach said there are 34 container vessels at anchor waiting to enter the San Pedro Bay ports complex, down from more than 80 last month, which it credited to the new queuing process that has ships waiting out in the Pacific instead of anchorages and loitering areas in the immediate vicinity of the San Pedro Bay ports. The new queuing process, developed by the Pacific Maritime Association, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and the Marine Exchange of Southern California, is intended to improve safety by reducing the number of ships lined up along the coast while also improving local air quality.

The latest number of backed up ships, both in the immediate vicinity of the ports and also outside the 150-mile exclusion zone, stood at 94 containerships as of December, just below the record of 96, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

The announcement from the Port of Long Beach also mentioned the “Container Dwell Fee” charged to ocean carriers for aging import containers, which has now been postponed for a fourth week, for contributing to a 37% decline in aging cargo in San Pedro Bay terminals.

According to the Port of Long Beach’s import dwell report, as of today there are 17,095 truck-bound import containers staying on docks longer than 8 days and 736 rail-bound containers aging more than 5 days. Under the new Container Dwell Fee program, each would face a daily charge starting at $100 and increasing in $100 increments for each day still on terminal.

“We appreciate the enormous effort of our dockworkers who continue to move record-breaking amounts of cargo through 2021,” said Steven Neal, President of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “We intend to maintain our high level of service by working with stakeholders in the goods movement industry to ensure products are delivered swiftly and safely.”

The Port of Los Angeles, neighbor to Long Beach at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, has not year reported November numbers.

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