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US West Coast ports: Imports rise as cargo pileups shrink

Monday, May 11th, 2015
"Docker throwing a twistlock on a container" by Danny Cornelissen - Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons

“Docker throwing a twistlock on a container” by Danny Cornelissen – Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons


It’s been almost three months since the labor dispute that crippled US West Coast ports was tentatively settled, and since then, containerized imports are on the upswing.

According to the Journal of Commerce*, the National Retail Federation in its publication, Port Tracker, reported that March import traffic jumped 45% from February, when the discord between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association severely hampered port operations for several months.

Dockworkers and management have made a concerted effort clear the massive container backlog resulting from the port slowdowns (presumably, in part, due to the implementation of chassis pools), although the ILWU has yet to ratify February’s agreement on the dockworkers’ labor contract (vote due on May 22).

See also our previous blog post:  Most shippers to divert cargo away from US West Coast ports.

(*JOC site registration required)


LA/LB Ports: New chassis pool to help clear cargo backlog

Monday, March 2nd, 2015
March 1, 2015.  A significant backlog of container ships awaits unlading at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, visible from over 50 miles away in southern Orange County, CA.  ® 2015 Customs Now, Inc.

March 1, 2015. A significant backlog of container ships awaits unlading at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, visible from over 50 miles away in southern Orange County, CA. ® 2015 Customs Now, Inc.

While extraordinary congestion from the West Coast port labor dispute remains at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, key stakeholders have taken a major step forward to address the backlog.

As reported today in Transport Topics, three of the ports’ largest intermodal chassis operators have created a chassis pool that “allows truckers to use equipment from any of the pools, instead of having to find, or wait for, a chassis from one of the individual pool operators.”

A chassis shortage was a weighty area of contention in the labor dispute, and the establishment of the pool is critical to address the estimated half million containers that continue to clog the port complex.

JOC: Most shippers to divert cargo away from US West Coast ports

Thursday, February 26th, 2015
 © 2015 Journal of Commerce

© 2015 Journal of Commerce



This week, the Journal of Commerce surveyed about 140 shippers to gauge sentiments on the recent West Coast port congestion debacle.  Despite tentative settlement of the labor dispute that resulted in the massive cargo backups at these ports, nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated their intention to redirect shipments away from the West Coast, primarily to the US East and Gulf Coasts, as well as the Port of Vancouver in Canada.

While the majority of shippers specified that they would divert 10 to 30% of their cargo, nearly an equal number signaled that they plan to reroute 31% or more.

Meanwhile, JOC also reports that retailers, a key driver of imports of US  West Coast ports, expect shipping delays, product shortages and increased trucking rates caused by the port slowdown to adversely affect business for weeks.  Perhaps this development has had some effect on the survey results.  (JOC site registration required).

See West Coast port congestion from the sky

Thursday, February 12th, 2015
© 2015 Michael Kelley

© 2015 Michael Kelley

Check out the bird’s eye view of the congestion at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, captured by aerial photographer, Michael Kelley.  Kelley noted that he saw “30 to 40 ships” waiting to discharge their cargo, the result of the ongoing US West Coast port labor dispute.

Just over two weeks ago, it appeared that the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union had reached agreement on a major issue — management of truck chassis —  a key point of contention in the dispute.

That consensus, however, seems to have evaporated as shipping lines have announced that they will suspend the loading and unloading of cargo ships over the next four days.  The move is an attempt to avoid paying holiday/weekend overtime wages, a response to a perceived “chronic” work slowdown by dockworkers, which their union disputes.


Progress on chassis in West Coast labor dispute

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

chassisAfter months of wrangling by longshoremen and their employers in a complicated labor dispute at West Coast ports, representative from both sides indicated that a tentative agreement has been reached on the key issue of chassis.

These trailers, which move cargo containers to and from ships at ports, have been in short supply, primarily due to ocean carriers divesting interest in the chassis and a lack of a cohesive backup plan for their management and maintenance.

According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, both sides – the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with 20,000 dockworkers, and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers at 29 ports – have offered little detail on the chassis accord, but are hopeful it can pave the way for a final agreement, and eliminate the port congestion caused by the dispute.



Attend “State of the Port” for Long Beach on Jan 29

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
Port of LB cranes © 2009 Regular Daddy

Port of LB cranes © 2009 Regular Daddy


On January 29, 2015, from 8 – 10 AM, the public is invited to a free event at the Long Beach Convention Center, “The State of the Port 2015,” delivered by Jon Slangerup, the new Chief Executive of the Port of Long Beach.

Slangerup will provide “updates on major infrastructure projects, cargo trends, jobs, security and other key Harbor Department initiatives.”

Register here.



LA/LB Seaport’s new rules for FDA refused merchandise

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

fdalogoUS Customs’ Los Angeles Field Office has released a Public Bulletin announcing revised port procedures for disposition of merchandise refused by FDA, which will be overseen by the newly created Federal Destruction and Redelivery Team (Team FDR).  Key points are as follows:

  • All merchandise refused by the FDA must be exported or destroyed under CBP and FDA supervision within 90 days of the refusal date.
  • Instead of receiving a separate CBPF 4647 and the Notice of FDA Action (Refusal), the importer will now receive a new combined “Refusal Redelivery Notice” (RRN).
  • The RRN is the Notice of Refusal stamped by CBP to indicated redelivery.  A cover sheet with port specific instructions for exportation or destruction of FDA refused merchandise will be included.

The Public Bulletin also details the specific procedures for merchandise for exportation as well as merchandise for destruction (for both seaport shipments and air shipments).

The Public Bulletin can be found here:  LA15-005 (Updated) Los Angeles Field Office Procedures for CBP-FDA Refused Merchandise



Port Congestion 101 – watch JOC video

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

See Bill Mongeluzzo, West Coast Editor for the Journal of Commerce, describe the perfect storm of events that have caused the ongoing gridlock in the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport, which has reverberated around ports nationwide.  Bill spoke at JOC’s Inland Distribution Conference.



CBP: Stricter ISF enforcement policy at LA/LB seaport

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

cargoshipsEffective October 1, 2014, US Customs officials at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport have further tightened ISF enforcement.  In particular, seaport personnel

“…will be increasing their enforcement posture for ISF no-file shipments.  CBP will continue to place manifest holds on all cargo (full container loads and consolidated loads) that do not have an ISF on file, 72 hours before vessel arrival at the LA/LB seaport.  CBP will manually monitor the existing holds to ensure that the ISF information has been filed.” (emphasis added)

This new policy narrows by one full day the window of compliance, which since July 2013 had been 48 hours before vessel arrival at the seaport.  (ISF rules require that all ISF information on a shipment bound for the US be submitted to CBP 24 prior to lading on the vessel on at the foreign port).

The official policy change is documented in CSMS #14-000520.


Market pool for truck chassis in the works for Port of NY/NJ

Friday, September 26th, 2014
© Port Authority of NY & NJ

© Port Authority of NY & NJ


In follow up to last week’s post on addressing truck congestion at US ports, commentary in the print edition of American Shipper (September 2014) reveals that there is progress on this front on the East Coast.

In his piece entitled “Answer to New York/New Jersey’s chassis blues?”, Chris Dupin reports that a working group of the Port Authority of NY/NJ’s Port Productivity Task Force is attempting to implement the task force’s recommendations that the industry create a ‘market pool’ for chassis:

“The market pool would be a port-wide pool with interoperability, meaning chassis could be used to move boxes that come from any of the terminals of liner carriers in the port.  The pool would not set prices, nor collaborate about anything that has to do with commercial relationships with customers.  Members of the pool would still compete with each other, but the task force thought a market pool could help solve some of the problems the port experienced with a lack of equipment and imbalance last year.”

Issues such as who will run the market pool are still in discussion.