Traffic Jam in San Francisco Bay Said to be Easing - Global Trade Magazine
  September 14th, 2015 | Written by

Traffic Jam in San Francisco Bay Said to be Easing

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  • There were no vessels at anchor waiting for berths at the port of Oakland’s five marine terminals, the port reported.
  • As many as 13 ships filled the San Francisco Bay anchorage in July.
  • Port director: Ships are arriving in Oakland and going straight to berth, just how we expect the port to operate.

A backlog of container ships crowding San Francisco Bay is fading, the Port of Oakland claims. The port recently reported no vessels at anchor waiting for berths at its five marine terminals and that situation prevailed for six straight days.

As many as 13 ships filled the San Francisco Bay anchorage in July. They were delayed by a labor shortage that slowed vessel loading and unloading in Port. Since then, the number has steadily dwindled.

“The vessels waiting to berth have been declining,” said John Driscoll, the port’s maritime director. “Ships are arriving in Oakland and going straight to berth, just what our customers need and how we expect the port to operate every day.”

The port said an influx of additional longshore labor over the past six weeks has helped eliminate the backlog. About 150 more dockworkers are joining the work force to accelerate vessel operations in Oakland. They’re being augmented by more than 300 casual or part-time workers. Another 30 marine clerk positions are also being created.

All requests for labor have been filled at port of Oakland marine terminals, according to a recent report, compared to 50 to 70 percent of labor orders being filled over much of the summer.

The port cautioned that vessel backlogs could recur until all longshore labor reinforcements are in place. Growth in the labor force is expected to be completed in time for the autumn peak shipping season.

The port said it continues to work on cargo congestion in marine terminals that was exacerbated by vessel backlogs. Proposed remedies include Saturday gates and a common pool of container chassis to help harbor truckers move containers more quickly. The measures are intended to hasten cargo delivery to customers.