The Busiest Port in the U.S.

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California Today

The Port of Los Angeles plays a large relation successful the planetary proviso chain. Here’s what has gone wrong.

Soumya Karlamangla

Oct. 18, 2021, 9:01 a.m. ET


The Port of Los Angeles.
Credit...Dean Musgrove/The Orange County Register, via Associated Press

When you deliberation of Los Angeles, the archetypal happening that comes to caput astir apt isn’t a massive, concern shipping hub.

But contempt its glitzy image, L.A. is location to the busiest larboard successful the Western Hemisphere. It plays a large relation successful the planetary proviso chain, the disruption of which by the pandemic has led to shortages of machine chips, diapers and favored food, arsenic good arsenic ostentation and terms hikes that are expected to worsen arsenic vacation buying kicks off.

In a bid to easiness the backlog, President Biden announced past week that the Port of L.A. would start operating 24/7, arsenic the adjoining Port of Long Beach began doing past month.

Together, the 2 maritime gateways relationship for 40 percent of each seaborne imports to the United States. Biden’s engagement successful the ports’ operations speaks to conscionable however important they are to the wellness of the American economy.

This weekend, I drove down to the Port of Los Angeles, which is 25 miles southbound of downtown L.A. successful a assemblage called San Pedro.

As I approached the coastline from the freeway, a tangle of cranes emerged connected the horizon. Entering the larboard felt similar descending into different world, a sprawling analyzable of colorful containers arsenic large arsenic railway cars and stacked taller than multistory buildings.

The port, which spans 12 quadrate miles connected oversea and land, moves astir $300 cardinal of cargo each year, mostly to and from Asia. Its biggest trading spouse by acold is China, followed by Japan and Vietnam.

Demand for goods has been higher than ever this year, arsenic Americans’ buying habits person shifted during the pandemic, spending much connected products — caller desks and stationary bikes — than services, specified arsenic going retired to meal oregon a movie. L.A. officials accidental that 2021 is connected way to interruption the port’s yearly grounds for imports and exports.


Credit...Mario Tama/Getty Images

As I scanned the shoreline, I spotted ships docked astatine the larboard arsenic good arsenic respective barges stationed farther out, waiting to approach.

Before the pandemic, ships typically arrived and instantly began unloading their goods. But the logjam has forced ships to enactment up astatine oversea for days. As of Friday, 29 barges were waiting for a berth.

This bottleneck has consequences beyond the economy. The ships are pumping retired pollutants arsenic they idle, clogging the aerial with smoke. Plus, 1 of their anchors whitethorn person caused the caller lipid spill disconnected the Orange County coast.

The caller enlargement of hours astatine the L.A. larboard is aimed astatine getting these cargo ships successful and retired faster. The determination volition astir apt assistance trim congestion, but it’s nary metallic bullet.

Americans’ relentless purchasing has created shortages astatine the mill level, restricting what products tin adjacent beryllium made and shipped. Coronavirus surges worldwide person closed manufacturing plants and constricted the fig of workers who usually toil on antithetic parts of the proviso chain.

In L.A., adjacent if barges are unloaded much rapidly onto the docks due to the fact that of round-the-clock operations, determination aren’t capable motortruck drivers and disposable warehouses to forestall bottlenecks from forming elsewhere.

After all, it’s a proviso chain, and the larboard is conscionable 1 link.

For more:

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Credit...John G Mabanglo/EPA, via Shutterstock
  • Theranos: What you missed successful the sixth week of the Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial.

  • Clinton’s infirmary stay: Former President Bill Clinton was released from a California infirmary connected Sunday aft being admitted for a urological corruption that developed into sepsis.

  • Threats and resignations: A Times introspection of hundreds of wellness departments shows the federation whitethorn beryllium little prepared for the adjacent pandemic than it was for the existent one.

  • Hospital strikes: Long-simmering disputes with unions implicit staffing astatine California hospitals are reaching situation points, CalMatters reports.

  • Anti-vaccine walkout: Some California parents are readying to support their children location from schoolhouse contiguous successful protestation of the state’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate, KRON4 reports.


  • IATSE agreement: A Hollywood unit onslaught scheduled for contiguous has been averted.

  • Santa Barbara fire: After burning for astir a week, the Alisal occurrence has been 78 percent contained, The Associated Press reports.

  • Vaccination deadline: About 97 percent of teachers and administrators met the Los Angeles Unified School District deadline to beryllium vaccinated against Covid-19, The Los Angeles Times reports.


  • A menace to past trees: Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks person immoderate of the highest ozone levels successful the nation, acknowledgment to smog that blows successful different areas, Wired reports.



Credit...Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times


Credit...Eric Grigorian for The New York Times

Today’s extremity comes from Melissa Roghani, who recommends the Huntington Library:

“A beauteous property with a depository containing “Blue Boy” and “Pinkie,” humanities documents, and gorgeous Japanese, Chinese, Cactus, Rose, and Shakespeare gardens. Multiple restaurants and acquisition store are besides included. Much probe is conducted determination and galore lectures are provided to the nationalist on-site and online.

It’s my blessed place.”

Tell america astir your favourite places to sojourn successful California. Email your suggestions to We’ll beryllium sharing much successful upcoming editions of the newsletter.

I’m a tad precocious to the party, but HBO’s “White Lotus” is incredible.

I’m headed to San Diego soon to bash immoderate reporting. What should I constitute about?

Email me suggestions astatine

The Marin Independent Journal precocious asked its readers for six-word stories astir endings.

As you mightiness expect during a society-disrupting pandemic, galore of the submissions were tales of woe, of lives and friendships lost.

Yet determination were besides immoderate of hope:

“Marriage ended agelong ago; I began.” — Penny Crow, Mill Valley

“Accounting vocation ended. Grandparent relation started.” — Pat Hager, Mill Valley

“Quit the telephone games, regained life.” — Janice Kohnhorst, San Rafael

“Met, joined another. Met again, married.” — Maria Hilakos Hanke, Ignacio

Thanks for starting your week with me. I’ll beryllium backmost tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Classic arcade crippled wherever you person to debar colliding with the partition (5 letters).

Briana Scalia and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You tin scope the squad astatine

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