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California ports again backed up with waiting cargo ships

On Behalf of | Aug 24, 2021 | Transportation Law |

In California, across the United States and all over the world, people have been doing their best to deal with the ongoing health situation. As it periodically improves and then worsens, it is negatively impacting seemingly every aspect of life including business. Deliveries to ports can be interrupted, delayed or put to a complete standstill because of backlogs. If one link in the chain is disrupted, it is inevitable that a litany of problems can accumulate. In recent months, a ship that was stuck in Egypt delayed shipping across the globe. Now, the backlog is happening again and it is disrupting timely deliveries. Businesses that are being harmed by this may need help in assessing how they should respond.

Port congestion is again causing challenges with deliveries

According to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, there was a record-breaking backlog of vessels at two ports in the area. The exchange reports that it is not a safety risk and given the current situation, the efficiency is as good as can be expected. Still, this is likely to present breaks in the supply chain. The initial record happened when there were 125 vessels in one port. That reduced to 116 after the weekend. Twenty-eight were container ships on berth meaning they were anchored and could unload. There were 35 offshore waiting their turn. In late January, there were 35 anchored with a high of 40 reached in February. Just six years ago, there were 28 at the port.

Another issue was overflow requiring the Marine Exchange to open drift areas. This was done in January after it not being needed since 2004. This is for safety purposes and to keep the shipping lanes clear. A part of the influx in ships is that imports are spiking and there are some that were behind and needed to catch up on their deliveries. There were noted disruptions in the Far East. Officials believe these issues are going to continue and waiting time is almost at seven days. It is not known how extensively these delays and backlogs will impact the holiday season, but this has been a worry since early in the year.

Addressing delays, damage and missed deliveries can be complicated

Businesses rely on transportation going relatively smoothly to function efficiently. It is understandable if minor challenges arise, but the current circumstances have shown how transportation can be delayed by health concerns, accidents and mistakes. Contracts might have language that protects business if there were violations or delays. Damaged or destroyed cargo, contractual disagreements and more could be confusing. It is imperative to understand the Carmack Agreement and how it protects shippers and carriers as they ship items interstate. This is crucial to making claims and when they can be made. To be fully protected, it is wise to be proactive and think about how to handle these factors from the perspective of the business and maintaining its flow and profitability. Consulting with those experienced in these cases can be helpful.


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