Officials at the Port of Oakland called for shipping lines to route more traffic to the Northern California port this week, citing no congestion on the docks and welcoming shipping lines that they said have bypassed the port since summer. The move comes on the heels of the Biden administration’s efforts to ease congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last week.
“There’s no congestion at the Oakland seaport, and we’re ready for more business,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said in a statement Tuesday. “We need ocean carriers to reinstate services in order to stabilize the supply chain, and our import and export partners echo this sentiment.”
Containerized cargo volume is up 4.2% in Oakland this year, compared to double-digit increases elsewhere, a result of accelerating consumer demand, higher business costs, and labor shortages, among other issues. Los Angeles alone has seen a nearly 30% increase in cargo volume this year, according to port data. As of Tuesday, there were about 100 ships anchored off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach waiting for berth space.
Officials in Oakland said the port hasn’t experienced any vessel backlogs since August.
They also urged shipping lines to help ease the gridlock by steering ships back to Oakland. Several ocean carriers omitted Oakland in recent months, officials said, explaining that excessive delays in Southern California necessitated immediate return of some ships to Asia without stopping in Oakland.
According to the Port, 54 vessels stopped in Oakland last month, the lowest vessel call total since 2015. As a result, September import volume declined 13% compared to a year ago, and exports were down 18%, officials said.
Brandes said he expects vessel calls and cargo volume to recover in October and November.
“We have capacity in Oakland that needs to be put to use to help shore up the supply chain and support our economy,” he said.
Port and government officials elsewhere have made similar statements this week. The South Carolina Ports Authority emphasized recent infrastructure improvements that have increased port capacity during a State of the Port Address Monday, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis welcomed more business to the Sunshine State’s ports during a press conference Tuesday. Leaders in both states emphasized the bottlenecks that have plagued supply chains all year and said businesses should diversify to other port gateways to help ease the problem.