According to multiple media outlets, the latest projections show that ports on the U.S. West Coast will clear lingering congestion in coming weeks, returning vessel, yard and gate operations to “normal” by the end of May. However, concerns remain that pre-congestion methods will not suffice in the face of an ever-increasing number of 8,000 to 14,000 TEU vessels, particularly with the onset of the peak season.
Currently, the ports of Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma appear to be operating with little-to-no congestion. While the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have made steady progress in recent weeks, lingering challenges remain, mainly related to minor backlogs of ships at anchor and cargo surges caused by larger vessels. With a strong peak season expected, each port is scrambling to both return to normal operating levels and to prepare for the inevitable spike in container volume.
The Port of Oakland appears to be particularly busy, with four key measures under consideration in advance of peak season, including:
• The permanent addition of Saturday gate hours
• The implementation of new technology to measure gate queue times and more quickly identify/address long lines for truckers
• The addition of off-dock locations where containers can be dropped off/picked up outside of normal terminal operating hours
• The establishment of a common chassis pool
Similarly, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach plan to expand on recent successes, such as the repositioning of containers to off-dock sites and the segregation of containers for high-volume importers. In addition, chassis-leasing companies in Southern California continue to work towards full utilization of a gray chassis pool by the end of June. Meanwhile, further north, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma have drafted the final agreement of their Northwest Seaport Alliance, which will unify marine cargo terminal investments, operations, planning and marketing on the Puget Sound.
SPARX logistics will continue to monitor this situation and keep our customer apprised of the latest developments. If you have questions or concerns related to specific shipments, please feel free to contact your SPARX representative.