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Port of Long Beach goes on the record with another No. 1

783,523 TEUs make for best November ever

The Port of Long Beach has reported its best November on record. (Photo: Port of Long Beach)

The Port of Long Beach on Wednesday joined the lengthening list of record setters by announcing it had marked its best November ever.

The Georgia and South Carolina ports authorities earlier this week separately announced they both had celebrated record-setting months. 

The Port of Long Beach said in a press release that its best November on record was the result of “the holiday retail rush and a surge in personal protective equipment deliveries amid the latest nationwide wave of COVID-19 cases.”

The California port moved 783,523 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in November, a 30.6% leap from the same month last year. The story in Long Beach is all about imports, which were up 30.5% to 382,677 TEUs. Exports were down 5.2% to 117,283 TEUs. But the figure that sticks out is empty containers shipped back to Asia for refilling. They jumped 55% to 283,563 TEUs.

“Online shopping and PPE purchases are on the rise as consumers continue the stay-at-home lifestyle, but the overall economic outlook is uncertain with another wave of COVID-19 spreading across the country,” said Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, in the press release. 

“We’re dealing with the surge in containers by partnering with stakeholders, utilizing a temporary storage yard and prioritizing dual transaction truck trips that balance inbound and outbound cargo flows,” he said. 

Cordero alluded to the port’s efforts to deal with reported San Pedro Bay congestion and long truck turn times by referencing the dual transactions. The Port of Long Beach announced last week that it had worked with the four companies that operate its six terminals on a commitment to increase “the number of truck moves that pair an export container delivery with an import container pickup appointment during the same visit.”

The port had 87 container ship calls in November. A sizable number, 17, were unscheduled vessels that made up for sailings canceled earlier this year. Blanked calls plagued U.S. ports last winter and spring as a result of coronavirus-caused factory shutdowns in China. The San Pedro Bay complex — the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles combined — had 104 canceled sailings in the first half of the year. That’s more than double the 41 canceled calls in the first six months of 2019. Thirty-seven of the blanked sailings this year were destined for the Port of Long Beach. 

The November-best results allowed the Port of Long Beach to continue its record-breaking streak. The 806,603 TEUs moved in October were the most the port had ever handled in a single month in its 109-year history.

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

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Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.