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  March 4th, 2015 | Written by

L.A., Long Beach Ports Promise “Normalcy” In Three Months

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Tuesday marked the first day, in a long time, that the number of ships anchored just off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach dipped to less than 30. The ships piled up, of course, due to recent labor strife/work slowdown and with that all resolved folks have gotten to the business of getting to business.

It will take about three months of effort by the nation’s two busiest ports to clear the cargo off a huge backlog of ships and finally get back to “a sense of normalcy,” as Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles’ executive director put it.

Seroka and his Long Beach counterpart, Jon Slangerup, appeared at the Journal of Commerce’s 15th annual Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center, and while they expressed happiness that a deal was finally hammered out, they also know that much harder than easing the backlog—20 containerships remain unloaded— will be assuring customers and bringing business back to their ports.

“We certainly are doing everything we can,” Slangerup said about getting back on track at the two ports, which combine to handle about 40 percent of U.S. imports but saw their cargo numbers tumble by more than 18 percent in January.

Tuesday brought even more good news when Congress voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the rest of the year. The department was only funded through the end of this week; if Congress had failed to pass a bill, the agency, which pays for a substantial amount of security and maintenance systems through federal grant funding, would have gone into partial shutdown, freezing some of that grant money.

Those security systems included closed-circuit television and radar to track the movement ships, loss of them would have put the ports at “quite a disadvantage,” according to Long Beach security director, Randy Parsons.