Ship boat

New Los Angeles and Long Beach ship queuing process works

The new process for queuing ships off Southern California ports may not be perfect, but so far it is working. Meanwhile, a new methodology for counting ships in the queue is also being developed.

According to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, the new vessel queuing process at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is aimed at meeting its goals of improving safety and air quality in the United States. off the southern California coast.

The new system was jointly developed by the Pacific Maritime Association, the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and the Marine Exchange of Southern California, and introduced earlier this month in response to historic congestion and an unprecedented backlog of anchored or lounging vessels. near shore in Southern California waters. . The updated system essentially establishes a “safe and clean air zone” stretching 150 miles from the coast that inbound transpacific container ships are urged to avoid while awaiting a berth in. the ports.

According to the Marine Exchange, the benefits of the new process are twofold. First, it increases safety by spacing vessels further out to sea as opposed to designated anchorages or narrower loitering areas within 40 miles of ports. Second, the new system improves air quality in Southern California by dramatically reducing the number of ships idling near major metropolitan areas.

Critically, the new process also changes the way ships enter the queue. Under the old system, ships would essentially line up when they came within 20 nautical miles of the San Pedro Bay port complex. But the new system provides that each ship is allocated a place in the arrival queue based on its departure time from its last port of call. This allows ships to “slow down” across the Pacific, a strategy the shipping industry has often adopted as a way to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

The Marine Exchange of Southern California, a non-profit organization, jointly manages the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) with the United States Coast Guard for the San Pedro Bay port complex, which includes the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach , and contributes to the safety of navigation. vessels approaching ports in an area extending 25 miles off Point Fermin. The Marine Exchange is unique among the country’s VTS areas in that it is managed through a public / private partnership. It is headed by Captain James “Kip” Louttit, its Executive Director, an MA from MIT and Golden Gate University and a retired Coast Guard Captain.

Of course, the new queuing process does not improve terminal congestion, nor does it speed up the movement of goods ashore. “We regret that this is beyond our ability to influence, but the industry took it upon themselves to do what could be done within their capacity and authority to increase the safety and quality of air in California from South it is working so far, and we are honored to be a part of it, ”wrote Captain Louttit in an article on the Marine Exchange facebook page last week on the eve of Thanksgiving.

In addition to the daily updates posted on Twitter, Captain Louttit and his civilian Marine Exchange team also posted semi-regular updates, about twice a week, to their Facebook page.

“My VTS watch heaves a sigh of relief tonight, as do 22 fewer ships plying our waters tonight than last week, reducing the risk of an incident while waiting for the strong wind out of Santa Ana over the next 48 hours. “said Captain Louttit in his post last week.

As a reminder, the introduction of the new queuing process came at a time when record numbers of ships were either physically anchored or lounging close to shore – to be exact, there were 86 container ships anchored. or strolling through November 16, the day the a new process was put in place.

Captain Louttit provided his last update on Monday:

“The backup continues, but the ships loitering in SoCal waters are happily diminishing thanks to the new container ship queuing system that distributes ships across the Pacific and allows low speed navigation, increasing safety and quality. air. The system really worked during the storm last Wednesday night with winds of 50 knots, ”wrote Captain Louttit.

To the frustration of some reporters who follow the queue of ships off Southern California, the new process skews some of the numbers the Marine Exchange has shared throughout the pandemic as the backlog of ships grew. regularly compared to “normal” levels. “We should have a methodology for counting these ships within a week and we appreciate your patience,” wrote Captain Louttit in his update on Monday.

A screenshot shared by the Marine Exchange of Southern California shows ships waiting outside the new air quality and safety zone.

While it may appear that the growing backlog of ships in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is a new phenomenon, it actually dates back to the summer of 2020 when imports, driven by increased spending from consumption, rapidly gained momentum after crashing at the start of COVID-19[FEMININEAvantcelalesnaviresn’avaientpaseuàflânerdepuis2004etmêmealorsiln’yavaitqu’unedemi-douzainedenaviresselonunemiseàjourantérieureducapitaineLouttit

I think it’s important to note the safety ramifications of having dozens of large ships in close proximity and near the coast off Southern California. We have already seen a major maritime accident as a result; the southern California oil spill. Although we only learned of the incident when the pipeline burst for some reason in early October, investigators believe the incident actually dates back to a severe weather event on January 25, 2021, when high winds caused a storm. ship (possibly MSC Danit). to drag the anchor over the pipeline. During this storm, of the 52 ships in total at anchor (a record, at the time), 24 took to sea to avoid the storm.

While not everyone agrees with the new queuing process, I don’t think anyone is willing to risk another major marine accident at a port complex that handles 40 percent of containerized imports. from the country.

“A safe, secure, efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly maritime transport system is essential to our economy, which is why this new system is so vital,” said Captain Louttit as he introduced the new implementation process. waiting line. “Our organization is thrilled to have helped develop a process that relies on comprehensive, real-time data to support the health of our ports. “