Freight News, Sea

Port of Oakland: Vessel Traffic Jam in San Francisco Bay Fading

[ September 8, 2015   //   ]

A backlog of container ships crowding San Francisco Bay is fading, the Port of Oakland says. On September 1, the Port reported no vessels at anchor waiting for berths at its five marine terminals. It was the sixth straight day of no waiting after a summer-long buildup of ships in the Bay.

“The vessels waiting to berth have been declining the past three weeks,” said Maritime Director John Driscoll. “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.”

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 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 being created, as well.

In the past four days, all requests for labor have been filled at Port of Oakland marine terminals. For much of the summer, only 50-to-70 percent of the labor orders were filled.

The Port cautioned that vessel backlogs could reoccur until all longshore labor reinforcements are in place. That could take another four-to-six weeks, the Port said. 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.