Carriers are restoring some capacity the California port lost this summer when container imports overwhelmed Oakland’s terminals
These so-called first-call services, in which ships arriving from Asia make their first stop in Oakland, avoid delays at other ports, losing some of Oakland’s operations after a backlog earlier this year. The backlog pushed container lines to other ports and contributed to bottlenecks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Midsummer cuts dampened the pace of double-digit growth in imports into Oakland and pulled down capacity for US exporters who ship through Oakland to Asia-Pacific markets.
“I think we’ve missed a lot,” said Brian Brands, the port’s maritime director.
Oakland’s struggle to maintain its maritime services this year highlighted the difficulties facing the maritime sector and shippers as they seek to avoid port bottlenecks around the US, while many ports are severely congested, Los Angeles and Long Beach show the fastest backups, others are more lightweight when used as carriers, eliminating calls at some ports and concentrating services to handle their operations more efficiently.
“The whole West Coast is just a mess and it’s going to be a mess,” said Craig Grossgart, senior vice president of global oceans for Seiko Logistics, an Itasca, Ill.-based freight forwarder.
Mr Grossgart said Seiko Logistics has been stuck at most ports on the west coast of North America this year from British Columbia to Southern California.
Congestion at major ports, terminals, rail yards and warehouses has doubled the time it takes to get products from factories in China to retailers in the US.
At the nation’s busiest maritime gateways to Los Angeles and Long Beach, more than 60 ships at a time have waited off the coast for berths in recent weeks. In the Pacific Northwest, the offshore flotilla recently reached between 15 and 20 ships, at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, port officials said.
Large Shippers Including Walmart Inc.
and home depot Inc.,
It has taken extreme measures to hire ships to less crowded ports to stock up.
Several ocean carriers added services to Oakland earlier this year as congestion in Southern California increased, only to see that port was overwhelmed between March and July as dozens of ships crossed the San Francisco Bay. was quickly supported.
According to port officials, the logjam reached about 30 ships in June, and maritime carriers cut or reduced seven services to bring delayed ships back on time and empty containers back to Asia for more imports. In August, only 68 ships were called to Oakland’s container terminals, a 40% decrease compared to 2020.
The decline in service in Oakland has hurt American farmers who use the port as an export hub.
Peter Schneider, president of TGS Logistics, a trucking company that works with exporters, said nut exports have declined sharply as companies look for alternative routes to overseas markets. “I have a lot of customers who have never shipped through LA and Long Beach because there are no services through Oakland,” Mr. Schneider said.
Adding service to Oakland won’t fix every shipper’s problems, said Nathan Strang, director of ocean trade lane management at Flexport Inc., a San Francisco-based freight forwarder. Mr Strang said the new services would help or be obligated to companies shipping in the Gulf region. Inland rail links but shipments bound for Southern California would quickly be bogged down by a limited supply of trucks and drivers.
Mr Brands of the Port of Oakland said the overcrowding was caused by a labor shortage. Hundreds of dock workers have been added, he said, setting up terminals to handle the overload. “There is room for us to grow,” he said.
[email protected] . on Paul Berger