Ships still at sea from dock strike

by John Seiler | March 18, 2015 4:24 pm

cargo shipAnyone along the coast of Los Angeles and Orange County still can see the giant cargo ships stranded by the dock strike — which was resolved last month.

The ships normally slip in and out of Los Angeles-Long Beach harborsĀ and unload their wares with little incident. Seeing them waiting to bring imports to the port is a visible reminder of California’s dependence on imports and exports.

The longer the ships are at sea, of course, the lower their profits — if they make any profits at all.

The Los Angeles Times reported [1]on another problem:

Sweeping changes in the global shipping industry have upended cargo trade at major U.S. ports. To cut costs, shippers have formed alliances to combine goods from multiple carriers on so-called megaships, some with nearly twice the capacity of traditional commercial vessels. That means each ship takes that much longer to unload.

At the same time, the shipping companies outsourced the management of truck trailers that carry shipping containers around the country. That transition did not go smoothly, by all accounts, creating a logistical nightmare that snarled traffic at Southern California ports long before labor talks broke down.

“In essence, the maritime supply chain has become unhinged,” said Jock O’Connell, an international trade economist with Beacon Economics. “You’ve got some fundamental problems that will take a long time to resolve.”

As has reported[2], California’s ports now face increasing competition from ports in the U.S. on the Gulf Coast, and with Mexican ports. If the state doesn’t get its act together, it could lose a lot of that business — and thousands of jobs and the tax revenues that go with them.

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