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Record volumes and vessel queues for Port of LA in 2021

Photo: YouTube screenshot Gene-Seroka-2022.JPG
Gene Seroka, Port of LA, speaking at Pacific Merchant Shipping Association’s seventh annual “State of the Port” event
The Port of Los Angeles handled a record 10.7m teu in 2021 in a year that was characterised by congestion and ever-growing queues of ships.

Handling 10.7m teu last year the Port of LA broke its previous record in 2018 by some 13%.

“Decades of development provided the berth space, backland and rail infrastructure to process more cargo than ever before,” Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of LA said.

“In 2021, our marine terminal operators and workforce gave us the ability to move that cargo — from the ships to railcars or out the gates on trucks — and for that we are forever grateful to them.”

However, it was a year that also saw record congestion and waiting times at the key US gateway ports of LA and Long Beach.

At the start of 2021 a queue of 30 to 40 containerships for the two ports was seen as being really bad, by the end of the year a queue of 100 had become the norm. As of 19 January there were 99 containerships in back-up waiting to enter the Ports of LA and LB, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

A “container dwell fee” agreed late last October to penalise long staying containers on dock has yet to be implemented as what is described as “aging cargo” on the docks has reduced by 62%.  The fee developed with the Biden-Harris Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, US Department of Transportation was originally planned to be introduced on 15 November.

In an address at the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association’s seventh annual “State of the Port” event Seroka stressed the importance of industry coming together to address challenges of the global supply chain. Renewed government attention on supply chain sees $17bn earmarked for infrastructure in the recently passed national Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and $2.3bn in the annual budget of the State of California.

“This level of funding represents a monumental opportunity for ports,” said Seroka. “Beyond freight system improvements, it will fund much-needed digital and cybersecurity infrastructure. It supports our creation of a future-ready goods movement workforce, and it aligns with our mission to lead the nation in the development of zero-emissions port drayage.”   

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