Oakland Port to Clear Backlog within Two Months

The cargo backup at the Port of Oakland resulting from nine months of bargaining disputes between the US West Coast port operators and longshore workers should clear within two months, the port said in the first operational update since approval of the new labor contract.

According to the port, efforts to eliminate the cargo backlog are reaping results as container movement speeds up thus decongesting the terminals.

This isn’t victory – there’s still a great deal of work to do, says Driscoll.

“This isn’t victory – there’s still a great deal of work to do,” said Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “But we’re seeing good collaboration between labor, terminal operators and harbor truckers and our customers will soon benefit from faster, smoother cargo flow.”

Port officials said marine terminals have cleared out the import buildup in their container yards. Delays are now mostly limited to containers still stowed on ships awaiting berths. The Port cautioned that temporary yard delays may recur as workers accelerate operations to eliminate the vessel backup.

Terminals are working nights and weekends to improve cargo flow, the port added.

The Port of Oakland’s two largest terminals are operating at 50-to-60 percent of container yard capacity,  meaning that they have room to handle more volume.

Five ships are anchored in San Francisco Bay or navigating outside the Golden Gate awaiting berths at the port, down from 20 vessels in mid-February.

The port expects the vessel logjam to disappear within 10 days.

“Vessels continue to arrive late after lengthy delays at Southern California ports. That could continue for a month or more as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach struggle with severe congestion. Shipping lines that were truncating voyages in Los Angeles to get back on schedule are now resuming Oakland calls,” the port said.

Cargo volume declined 32 percent in January at the Port of Oakland. Other major West Coast ports reported similar decreases. February volume statistics will be down again when they’re reported in mid-March. That’s the lingering effect of the contract impasse, the port added.

As informed, there are some labor shortages in vessel operations being reported at Oakland and other West Coast ports.  On average, 10 ships a day are being loaded and unloaded in Oakland. Typically that number would be 3-to-5 ships.

Vessels that are normally worked in one day still require several days for loading and unloading. But the turnaround time has dropped significantly in the past two weeks, according to the update.

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