(FiveNation.com)- It’s no secret that there is a significant problem with the supply chain in the United States, but it’s risen to epic levels recently.
Last week, a record number of container ships were stranded at sea, waiting for a spot to dock at one of California’s ports just to deliver their goods. In total, there were 111 container ships that were waiting to dock and unload at the busy ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Business Insider reported that the previous record for stranded ships was 108, which occurred back on October 21.
Before the pandemic began, it was very rare for even one container ship to have to wait to dock in a port — let alone have 111 waiting “in line.” Recent spikes in demand for goods as well as a shortage of workers on the dock and with trucking companies have caused a catastrophic delay.
The Biden administration has been trying to pressure shipping companies to institute schedules that would have them covered around the clock. In recent days, President Joe Biden even announced that the Port of Los Angeles would begin operating on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week schedule.
In addition, major private retailer such as Walmart and delivery companies such as UPS and FedEx would begin adding working hours to compensate for the delay in the supply chain.
Officials with ports in California have said they would fine any shipper that doesn’t comply with the newly extended operating hours of the ports. The idea is to incentivize shippers to not leave their containers on the docks for too long — so there is space for more goods to come ashore.
In Long Beach and Los Angeles, port authorities plan to fine shipping companies $100 per container for every day that a container is left on one of the docks.
Since the start of November, port authority officials began counting the number of containers that were left behind at the ports. The total is more than 60,000 — all of which are to be subject to these fines. The ports said they would begin doling out the fines as early as this week.
The ports in California are an essential cog in the trade wheel between China and the United States. According to the Biden administration, these two ports alone handle 40% of all shipping containers in the country.
In early summer, the Los Angeles became the first port in the West to process 10 million containers in one calendar year. This year, Long Beach expects to set a new record — processing 9 million containers.
With the supply chain crisis getting so bad, the Biden administration has reportedly considering sending members of the National Guard to the ports to help with the bottlenecks.
Senior officials in the White House have told many media outlets recently that higher prices should be expected for the Christmas shopping season, along with spare stock at stores and online.
As one official told Reuters:
“There will be things that people can’t get.”