Two years after a container ship backup in California marked the beginning of U.S. supply-chain problems, the kink in the supply chain has cleared.
- In 2020, a backup of shipping vessels in Southern California stood out as one of the most visible signs of supply-chain issues in the U.S.
- Now, officials have finally declared that the backup is cleared. At its peak, the backlog of ships had a line 109 vessels long.
- The traffic jam has been cleared largely due to adequate staff to handle the demand.
- Some ocean carriers are delaying arrivals to avoid long lines, slowing the rush of arrivals.
- The original backlog of shipping containers was caused by a greater number of Americans ordering goods while stuck indoors during the lockdowns.
Why it’s news
Ports along the Southern California coast saw an influx of shipments during 2021. Imports—especially from Asia—rose around 20%.
Ships were ordered to wait in line hundreds of miles off shore to prevent pollution from overwhelming the California cost. Officials asked cargo ships to slow their journey across the Pacific to avoid even greater backups.
The delays resulted in even greater supply-chain delays as manufacturers and retailers were unable to access goods and supplies. During the delays, prices on ocean shipping also reached new highs.
Demand began to fall as retailers started ordering less in order to match changing consumer demand. As fewer new ships arrived at the port, the port employees were able to handle the existing traffic.
Some importers also began shipping their goods to ports other than the West Coast, easing stress on the overburdened ports.
Retailers are still keeping a close eye on the ports as West Coast dockworkers are in the midst of negotiating a new contract. Disagreements between employees and employers could result in new delays.