West Coast Container Ship Pileup Continues

March 18, 2021

The transpacific container ship slowdown is expected to reverse course during the second quarter, but as of right now, the pileup of vessels on the West Coast continues - and that’s not good for tire dealers who are waiting for orders to arrive.

I wrote about the shipping slowdown in the February edition of MTD. 

In that editorial, Martin Dixon, director of research products for Drewry, a consultant to the global shipping industry, said his company expects “capacity constraints to recede” during 2Q 2021. 

“We expect this situation to right itself as supply chains and carrier schedules normalize,” he noted. For a lot of tire dealers in the U.S., that reversal probably can’t happen soon enough.

Here’s a snapshot of where we are. As I’m writing this blog, the Port of Los Angeles, which is the biggest port in the U.S., reports 17 container vessels are at berth, meaning they are not at sea. Thirteen ships are at anchor, waiting to enter the port. Two have been anchored for 12 days. One has been anchored for 10 days. 

Another 13 ships are expected to drop anchor over the next four days. (Current average anchor time at the port is slightly more than seven-and-a-half days.)

Import volumes at the Port of Los Angeles are trending upward, as well.  Slightly more than 144,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) are expected to pass through the port between March 14 and March 20, up 2% from the previous week and up 123% from the same week last year.

The port is expected to process 138,000 TEUs from March 21 through March 27, with an increase to 151,390 TEUs expected from March 28 through April 3. That’s an increase of 185% from the March 28-April 3, 2020, period, when volumes began to collapse due to the impact of COVID-19.

Will the port - and others like it - start processing ships and cargo more quickly during the weeks and months to come? Let’s hope so. That would be a positive thing for your business - and business, in general.

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.