Report: Record 164 Ships Wait Off California Coast to Unload Goods

In an aerial view, container ships (Top L) are anchored by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as they wait to offload on September 20, 2021 near Los Angeles, California. Amid a record-high demand for imported goods and a shortage of shipping containers and truckers, the twin ports …
Mario Tama/Getty Images

A record 164 cargo ships were reportedly waiting off California’s coast on Wednesday to unload goods as President Biden’s supply chain crisis persists.

According to Marine Exchange, 164 cargo ships were waiting to unload containers onto the docks. Of the 164, 109 were container ships, which includes 79 anchored or loitering and 30 at berth.

Wednesday’s record beats the November 5 record when 159 ships were waiting to offload containers. On October 19, 100 ships were delayed from unloading freight, another record-breaking amount. October’s numbers are greater than September’s. On September 25, 60 ships were reportedly waiting to unload goods.

The backlog of transatlantic shipping at the southern California ports is presumably driving the supply chain crisis and exacerbating inflation. The southern California ports are responsible for 40 percent of all shipped containers to the United States. If goods are stuck at the ports, prices are impacted by the lack of supply.

The ships seem unable to offload the goods because the ports are jammed with containers waiting for truckers to drive the freight to locations around the nation. But the ports appear to be struggling to efficiently move the containers from the ships to trucks or trains.

Truck drivers have complained they wait for hours to pick up a load of freight at the ports, which prohibits their productivity. With delays impacting drivers’ ability to earn a living, the trucking industry is facing a 30 percent labor shortage or 80,000 drivers in real numbers.

Besides facing delays at ports, truckers must also contend with California’s red tape, which has sidelined massive trailers in favor of more fuel efficient vans. Drivers also have to contend with paying for truck upgrades to reduce emissions.

Truck drivers, many of whom are fresh immigrants, also face tough deals with employers. Breitbart News previously reported:

If the truckers are late on a payment, become sick, or do not have money to repair the truck, the trucking companies fire the driver and repossess the truck, along with any equity the driver has invested, USA Today reported.

The drivers who are not fired “sometimes end up owing money to their employers” and are unable to get out from under the debt. Unable to repay their employer, drivers essentially work for free, never able to earn much money.

Drivers are also struggling with the increased expense of paying to maintain or purchase a rig. Breitbart News reported the “price of truck trailers jumped 6.6 percent in October compared with the month earlier, the largest ever monthly gain in Labor Department Producer Price Index records stretching back to 1981.”

Overall, shipping by truck has become more expensive. Prices in October increased by a record high of 3.5 percent.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø

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