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Record Number of Ships Stranded Outside California Ports

111 container ships wait to unload at ports as supply chain crisis accelerates

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• November 10, 2021 2:15 pm

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Container ships stranded outside of California ports reached a record number on Tuesday, as the United States' supply chain crisis accelerates.

One-hundred-eleven container ships are waiting to unload at ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach, breaking the previous record of 108 ships set on Oct. 21, according to Business Insider. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, ships almost never waited to dock. A spike in demand combined with a shortage of dock workers and truckers has caused the jam.

The supply chain bottleneck is growing despite pressure from the Biden administration for shipping companies to adopt around-the-clock schedules. In October, President Joe Biden announced that the Port of Los Angeles would operate 24/7. Major retailers including Walmart, FedEx, and UPS would also lengthen working hours, Biden said.

California ports said they would fine shippers that do not comply with the extended working hours and leave their containers too long on the docks. Port authorities in Los Angeles and Long Beach pledged to fine shipping companies $100 a day for every container left on the docks.

The ports began tallying the containers left behind at the beginning of November and will levy fines as early as mid-November. More than 60,000 containers are subject to fines.

The California ports are a critical trade corridor between the United States and China. And Los Angeles and Long Beach import 40 percent of shipping containers to the United States, according to the White House. In June, Los Angeles became the first port in the Western Hemisphere to process 10 million containers in one year. Long Beach expects to process nine million containers, the most it has ever imported in one year.

The White House has reportedly considered deploying the National Guard to handle the supply chain crisis. A senior administration official told Reuters in October that Americans should expect higher prices and sparse stock this Christmas season.

"There will be things that people can't get," the official said when asked about holiday shopping.

U.S. consumer demand remains high even as the nation faces the highest level of inflation in over 30 years.