Record number of freighters await off California coast

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Container ships were lined up off the coast of Southern California this week, waiting to deliver goods to the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. The backup offered another sign of the supply chain problems plaguing businesses around the world.

Sixty-one ships were anchored offshore Thursday waiting to unload their cargo, up from a record 73 on Sunday, said Captain J. Kipling Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, a nonprofit that works in partnership with the coast. Guard to provide data on maritime trade.

In addition to the anchored ships, 29 were adrift for up to 20 miles offshore, meaning they were so far from shore that their anchors couldn’t reach the ocean floor. That’s down from the record of 37 set on Monday, captain Louttit said, but traffic is not easing.

“We are in our 11th month of handling this record traffic,” he said. “We’ve never had a problem like this before.”

The delay in getting container ships to port comes as the easing of restrictions linked to the pandemic and increased consumer spending have increased demand. As a result, manufacturers are struggling to keep pace, and shortages of some products, such as semiconductors, have caused production slowdowns. The problem has been exacerbated by the rise of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, which is causing labor shortages as workers are quarantined.


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