America’s Imports Are Stuck on Ships Floating Just Off Los Angeles

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The giant container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days was freed Monday, but another bottleneck in the supply chain remains, this one in Southern California.

On Monday morning, 24 container ships—with a combined maximum carrying capacity nearly 10 times that of the newly freed ship—were anchored off the coast waiting for space at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which keeps tabs on vessels and directs ship traffic.

The ships are carrying tens of thousands of boxes holding millions of dollars’ worth of washing machines, medical equipment, consumer electronics and other of the goods that make up global ocean trade, all of it idling in the waters in sight of docks that are jammed with still more containers.

One was on its 12th day of waiting in the seemingly unending queue. And the vessels keep coming.

Backups started building late last year as retailers and manufacturers tried to rebuild inventories that were depleted in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.



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