It would be easy to blame Covid-19 for the rising price of goods in retail stores, along with the limited selection. But the truth is that’s not the real reason. Anything that comes from Asia arrives by ship and there is a major traffic jam of cargo container ships off the coast of California. It’s already worse than Obama’s union strike in 2015.
Shortages the real truth
March is supposed to be a slow month for shipping but the crews of 28 container ships held prisoner in San Pedro Bay aren’t expecting to see dry land any time soon. The cargo ship traffic jam is showing signs of easing up though it won’t be cured in the near future.
Entirely because of “shortages” in “both equipment and labor.” The truth behind all the rising prices is that the twin Pacific ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are unable to cope with the “unrelenting wave of imports.”
March, shipping industry analysts say, “is typically one of the slowest months for inbound merchandise,” but not this year. Another truth which nobody in California can handle is “the influx of steel boxes this year” which “show few signs of easing.” The traffic jam started in October.
Time is money in the shipping business with the price to transport one of those 40 foot standard cargo containers from Asia to America running around $4,800.
One of the things that makes today’s crisis so much worse than the one under Barack Obama is that the truth this time around is that the ships are so much bigger. There are a whole lot more containers to unload from each one, then they get reloaded for the return voyage.
Stuck in traffic eight days
Imagine if getting to the office meant sitting at a red light for eight hours. The truth is comparable to that. Most ships can cross the entire Pacific Ocean in around 3 weeks. Once they get to California, they are being parked.
The current average anchor time is eight days. Obviously, California’s two facilities are the “biggest U.S. gateway for Asian imports.” The delay only adds “costs and complications for companies trying to stay well-stocked in an accelerating economy.”
As of Sunday, 16 more vessels are expected to join the school of 28 anchored off the coast. The crews are sharpening their ping pong skills until they get the word of an open berth at one of the two facilities.
That’s where they can finally unload and get on with their lives, after spending a week of bonus pay at the local brothels. The Long Beach economy certainly appreciates the truth of that little unspoken arrangement.
At least one piece of truth with a silver lining is that the ocean gridlock now is a whole lot better than it was in February. That’s when they had 40 ships lined up like sardines.
According to the authorities who monitor the San Pedro Bay marine traffic, out of the 16 ships headed in now, 7 have already been ordered to get in line and drop anchor.