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Carriers urged to use PNW ports to avoid LA-LB congestion: FMC

FEDERAL Maritime Commissioner Carl Bentzel has called on carriers arriving from Asia to divert and use the less-congested Pacific Northwest [PNW] ports of Seattle and Tacoma

07 February 2021 - 19:00
FEDERAL Maritime Commissioner Carl Bentzel has called on carriers arriving from Asia to divert and use the less-congested Pacific Northwest [PNW] ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

The appeal follows gridlock at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, which the commissioner described as 'the worst that we've ever seen in terms of container cargo movement'.



Mr Bentzel added: 'I believe things have gotten to the point where serious consideration needs to be given to temporarily routing cargo, such as intermodal cargo, temporarily to other ports, for example the PNW ports that have capacity to handle intermodal cargo.



'We're in search of operational capacity, and right now there is very little operational capacity left in LA-LB, but PNW ports could provide a temporary safety valve until we can relieve congestion.'



He said LA-LB terminals' productivity is 50 per cent or less than normal due to multiple factors, and that is pushing the time frame for the ports to return to a normal state of operations further out into 2021.



Container lines and forwarders said they aren't seeing any let up of imports into Southern California for at least a month and are telling customers they need to book at least four weeks in advance to get space on ships, reports IHS Media.



US laden imports from Asia through the LA-LB port complex in December jumped 36 per cent year over year, according to PIERS.



Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said container lines and marine terminals have begun discussions on how to meter incoming cargo to Southern California in order to allow facilities to catch up on the backlog.



'We've got to stem this tide so we can get back to some semblance of certainty in the supply chain,' Mr Seroka said, noting that the congestion would last until June if drastic actions weren't taken.



The potential for diverting ships to the PNW ports comes as pressure is growing to resolve the port issues. On January 28, California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis wrote to the FMC, saying 'immediate steps must be taken to help alleviate the multitude of challenges being experienced at the ports.'


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