Long Beach port leaders OK congestion-relief measure; penalties waived for lingering ships


Supply chain stakeholders slugging through ongoing congestion issues at the Port of Long Beach will see three more months of financial relief in the form of waived dockage fees.
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners on Monday night unanimously approved extending its cap on dockage fees to June 30.

Before the port clogged with congestion, it normally took about three days to load and unload goods from ships. But bottlenecks caused by the arrival of larger ships with more cargo, the uneven distribution of trailers needed to move containers, a now-resolved labor dispute with dockworkers, and other factors have delayed the time a ship stays on dock by four days to seven days. Shippers pay higher penalties after four days at dock.

The new extended exemption allows customers from being charged more for keeping a ship docked for more than four days, long enough for port officials to deal with the backlog that has slowed down the supply chain and created weekslong shipment delays that have prompted customers to ship by air or redirect goods to other ports.

It appears that the number of ships at sea off the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports is decreasing. The Marine Exchange of Southern California reported 25 backed-up vessels at anchor off the twin ports, including 19 container ships Monday. That’s a smaller number compared to the more than two dozen vessels that were stranded in the water daily in recent weeks.

Commissioners said they are committed to finding long-term solutions to the congestion problem and expressed the need for all stakeholders to be at the table.

Commissioner Rich Dines called the approved dockage fee cap extension “a simple Band-Aid.”

“That’s all this is,” he said. “But moving forward, we are going to focus on addressing long-term congestion, so we see this port increase our capacity by double and triple and do it in an efficient manner, and that we protect the good jobs that we rely on for a tax base.”