LA Port Backlog Causes Supply Crisis

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Cargo ships anchored outside the Port of LA (Photo by Andrew Carpenter)

Andrew Carpenter, Design Editor

The Port of Los Angeles is experiencing a ship backlog that is having major effects on the national supply chain. 

The backlog of ships only continues to grow because the ships cannot be unloaded in time. 

This backup has had noticeable changes in recent months. 

Senior Chris Salas is on the sailing team and has spent lots of time around the port. 

“In early 2020 there were a few ships parked outside the harbor,” Salas said. 

“Starting this past summer the number of boats has exploded. Now it seems like there [are] more and more everyday.”

James Walsh, a contractor for the Port of L.A., has been working at the port and has witnessed the issue firsthand. 

“There are multiple reasons for the backlog of ships,” Walsh said. 

“The first reason being the supply chains were fractured during the pandemic. Coming out of the pandemic there was a quick increase in demand for shipping from overseas. 

There are more reasons than just the sudden increase in demand. A shortage of workers has impacted all aspects of the supply chain.” 

Boats, trains and trucks cannot be unloaded fast enough to process the amount of containers that are coming into the country. 

Approximately 40% of all cargo coming into the U.S. comes through the Port of L.A. 

With the backlog putting strain on many imports coming into the U.S., everyone from regular consumers to business owners has felt the effects.

Tyler Kennedy, who works for Dion and Sons Marine Fuels in Long Beach, CA, has felt the effects first hand.

“We run a tackle shop and a mechanic shop out of my dock and we have been low on stock because it is still stuck on the ships,” Kennedy said. 

“We haven’t been able to get all of the products we need to sell so that backs up our business and leads to our customer base [to look] for other suppliers.”

According to The White House, President Joe Biden met with the leadership from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to discuss the actions they are each taking to address the backlog. 

The Port of Los Angeles has expanded to a 24/7 operation and has begun fining shipping companies for idle containers.

Many international companies and retailers have commited to increase operations to help ease the supply chain backlog. 

Walmart, UPS, FedEx, Samsung, The Home Depot and Target are currently increasing operation hours and are moving more containers out of the port to make room for more containers coming off of ships. 

If you have ordered anything online that has shipped from overseas you may have noticed the extreme delay in shipping. 

Consumers have been advised to start gift shopping early to ensure that they will arrive in time for the holidays.