The Port of Los Angeles will launch 24/7 operations to tackle the huge line of ships waiting to dock, the White House says

Container ships at the backlogged Port of Los Angeles in October 2021.
The shipping industry is currently in chaos, with ports in Southern California being especially hard hit.

  • The Port of Los Angeles will start processing ships 24/7, the White House said.
  • The shipping industry is currently in chaos, causing product shortages and soaring prices.
  • Ships are currently stuck off the California coast, waiting to get into port.

The Port of Los Angeles is starting to process ships 24/7 to help ease a massive backlog, the White House said Wednesday.

The port was adding new off-peak night shifts and weekend hours, the White House said in a press release. The new hours would almost double the number of hours during which cargo can be moved, it said.

The shipping industry is currently in chaos, with ports in Southern California hit especially hard. At the Port of Los Angeles alone, ships carrying nearly 500,000 shipping containers – or about 12 million metric tons of goods – were waiting in drift areas and at anchor on October 5 for spots to open up so that they could dock and unload.

On Tuesday, there were 80 ships at anchor or drift areas and 64 at berths across both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. “The normal number of container ships at anchor is between zero and one,” Kip Louttit, executive director of the Exchange, told Insider in July.

The White House said that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents port workers, had agreed for its members to work longer hours.

President Joe Biden is set to hold a virtual meeting Wednesday to discuss the supply-chain chaos, with expected attendees including executives from UPS, FedEx, Walmart, the US Chamber of Commerce, Teamsters, and the American Trucking Association, as well as the executive directors of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, CNBC reported.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together account for around 40% of all shipping containers entering the US, as well as around 30% of all exports. In September, the Port of Long Beach switched to 24-hour operations between Mondays and Thursdays, and its executive director said that the industry was in “crisis mode.”

Multiple factors are causing the problems, including a surge in demand for goods, labor shortages at ports, and COVID-19 related port closures.

Coupled with a lack of truck drivers, the shipping crisis is wreaking havoc across the supply chain, causing shortages, delays, and soaring prices affecting products from freezers and computer chips to chicken wings and Coca-Cola.

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