As larger ships bring bigger volumes to southern California, the Port of Los Angeles is outperforming Long Beach in terms of vessel arrivals and berth times, according to a recent CargoSmart newsletter.
The LA-LB port complex has been increasing its share of container trade on the Pacific Coast of North America, suggesting that the big ships carriers are deploying in the trans-Pacific are diverting cargo away from other ports on the coast. Carriers deploy their biggest ships in the North American trades in Southern California.
In an effort to discern the ports’ current performance ahead of the expiration of the current International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract at the end of June, CargoSmart’s Global Vessel Voyage Monitoring Center analyzed the percentage of vessel arrival delays, the average duration of such delays and the average berth times of the Top 21 ocean carriers at the ports from March 21 through May 21.
The Port of Los Angeles had a higher percentage of on-time vessels than the Port of Long Beach, and that discrepancy grew over the period, CargoSmart said. From March 21 to April 20, based on 141 vessels berthed at the Port of Los Angeles, 48 percent of vessels arrived early or within 12 hours of the scheduled arrival. From April 21 to May 21, based on 126 vessels berthed at the port, 62 percent of the vessels arrived early or within that 12-hour on-time window. The Port of Long Beach, the second busiest port in the U.S. after Los Angeles, handled 65 vessels from March 21 to April 20, with 40 percent of the vessels arriving early or within 12 hours of the scheduled arrival, versus 33 percent of 57 vessels arriving early or within 12 hours of the scheduled arrival from April 21 to May 21.
The average length of the arrival delays fell at both ports as the number of vessels berthing at the ports declined (from 141 to 126 at the Port of Los Angeles and from 65 to 57 at the Port of Long Beach), but again the Port of Los Angeles performed better, according to CargoSmart. Los Angeles had an average vessel arrival delay of 23 hours from March 21 to April 20, and 16 hours from April 21 to May 21, while Long Beach experienced an average vessel arrival delay of 27 hours from March 21 to April 20, and 23 hours from April 21 to May 21.
Total container traffic at Los Angeles fell from 493,686 TEUs between March 21 and April 20 to 492,419 TEUs between April 21 and May 21, and container volume at Long Beach dropped from 430,386 TEUs in the first period to 409,427 TEUs in the second period, according to PIERS, the data division of JOC Group. However, imports at both ports were up over the period: Los Angeles’ import TEUs rose from 339,056 from March 21 to April 20, to 387,106 from April 21 to May 21, and Long Beach’s import TEUs increased from 290,785 to 320,291.
Ships at Long Beach also had longer berth times compared with Los Angeles, although the time at berth did fall in Long Beach from March through May, CargoSmart said. The average berth time of vessels at Los Angeles during both periods was about the same: 46 hours from March 21 to April 20 and 47 hours from April 21 to May 21. But at the Port of Long Beach, average berth time dropped from 70 hours in the March 21 to April 20 period to 63 hours in the April 21 to May 21 period.
“Although the Port of Long Beach had a decreasing average berth time in the latter period, its average berth time was about 35 to 50 percent longer than the Port of Los Angeles,” CargoSmart said.
According to the JOC Group’s port productivity data, the Port of Long Beach was more productive than its larger rival in 2013, averaging 88 berth moves per hour, which was better than Los Angeles’s average of 87 berth moves per hour. In 2012, Long Beach averaged 74 berth moves per hour, versus an average of 52 berth moves per hour at Los Angeles.