Baseless Claims About Cause of Cargo Ship Backups


Container ships anchored by ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles waiting to offload. Mario Tama/Getty

U.S. ports slowed by pandemic-induced labor and equipment shortages cannot keep up with Americans’ demand for imported goods, resulting in cargo ship backups on both coasts. But social media posts, without citing evidence, falsely claim the Biden administration is purposely “orchestrating” product shortages.

First, this is a global phenomenon. The reasons are the same, worldwide. Delays at a number of choke points, globally, have a consistent result. One that will take weeks and months to resolve.

Cargo ships are backed up in record numbers at U.S. ports, as Americans’ demand for imported goods runs up against the ability of shippers and transporters to unload those goods and transport them to warehouses and consumers.

But some social media posts claim, without citing evidence, that the Biden administration is keeping the ships backed up on purpose. They misleadingly imply the cargo backup is part of a plan to create shortages and later inflate fourth-quarter data to take credit for a strengthening economy…

In fact, cargo traffic has been rising since the pandemic took hold, as homebound Americans began ordering goods online, with a record number of ships waiting to enter ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach. Marine terminals and trucking companies have been unable to keep up with the volume, resulting in bottlenecks at ports and rail yards from California to New York.

RightWing nutballs are consistent in their communications practices. Once they decide on a new lie appropriate to whichever economic question they hope to exacerbate to their political advantage, they set to work with narrow focus and no verifiable facts or analysis. Rather like Trump’s campaign promises. If you are a True Believer of this kind of crap, you never worry about facts, anyway.

Not only are these logistics problems spreading globally, reaching epic numbers at gateway ports. the answers are the same around the world. Time, increasing competent personal (which usually requires increasing wages)…repeated over and again throughout the supply chains from point of manufacture to retail distribution.

It’s what I did for many years…when I wasn’t involved in sales. Though I’ve been retired for a couple decades, I’m getting job offers every day. A compliment, yes. But, retirement is good enough, thank you.

8 thoughts on “Baseless Claims About Cause of Cargo Ship Backups

  1. Puzzling Evidence says:

    HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A massive cargo ship made a series of unusual movements while anchored in the closest spot to a Southern California oil pipeline that ruptured and sent crude washing up on beaches, according to data collected by a marine navigation service.
    The Coast Guard is investigating whether a ship anchor might have snagged and bent the pipeline owned by Amplify Energy, a Houston-based company that operates three offshore oil platforms south of Los Angeles. https://apnews.com/article/oil-spills-business-long-beach-california-oceans-982868469d2b8b41933a3043a20ea431

    • Update says:

      “According to information released this week by the Unified Command responding to the incident, divers and ROV footage confirmed that a 4,000-foot stretch of the more than 17-mile-long San Pedro Bay Pipeline was found to be displaced on the ocean floor by 105 feet, with a 13-inch gash that is believed to be the source of the oil spill.
      In a Friday afternoon press conference, USCG Captain Jason Neubauer and NTSB Investigator in Charge Andrew Ehlers said the suspected anchor dragging event, at least initially, like occurred several months to as long as one year ago, based on evidence gathered so far.
      Captain Neubauer said sediment buildup and marine growth around the impacted portion of the pipeline indicates a longer timeline than perhaps was initially expected. Parts of the concrete casing around the 16-inch steel pipeline is also missing or damaged and debris field can be seen near site. A marine growth study could provide additional details with regards to the timeline and the portion of damaged pipeline is likely to be retrieved and sent to a NTSB lab for closer examination.” https://gcaptain.com/orange-county-pipeline-investigation-initial-anchor-dragging-likely-occurred-several-months-to-one-year-ago/

  2. Cascade effect says:

    “The number of vessels waiting to enter one of the world’s busiest ports jumped to the most since August, threatening to further snarl global supply chains strained by a surge in consumer demand for everything from cars to computers.
    China’s Yantian port in Shenzhen suspended pick-up and drop-off of containers as tropical cyclone Kompasu approached the nation’s southern coastline. The number of ships waiting outside the port rose to 67, the most since Aug. 26, according to shipping data compiled by Bloomberg.
    Located near China’s tech capital of Shenzhen and the manufacturing belt of the Pearl River Delta, Yantian is one of the world’s busiest ports, with a cargo throughput of 13.34 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2020, according to figures from the Shenzhen Transportation Bureau. It typically serves about 100 ships a week.” https://gcaptain.com/cyclone-kompasu-yantian-port/

    • p/s says:

      The twenty-foot equivalent unit [TEU] is an inexact unit of cargo capacity, often used for container ships and container ports. It is based on the volume of a 20-foot-long intermodal container, a standard-sized metal box [‘cargo container’] which can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains, and trucks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-foot_equivalent_unit

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