Why anchored ships don’t divert elsewhere….

I highly recommend this video discussing why ships are choosing to wait for days and days at anchor rather than divert to another port, perhaps an east coast port closer to the main markets for many containers off-loaded at the LA-Long Beach port complex. The Chief MAKO Seaman Vlog is an excellent source of other information about the container shipping business, from a sailor’s perspective, and in this video here he explains exactly why ships are choosing to sit at anchor.

This morning I read in the New York Times that the supply chain problems are now going to make life harder for farmers exporting food and grain. This of course is true for those foodstuffs sent via container (there are some, for example fruits requiring refrigeration in refrigerated containers), but by and large most agricultural products are sent in bulk cargo ships, not container ships. Here in Tacoma there is a large grain terminal and nearly always I see three to five ships at anchor awaiting their turn, but this sort of back-up is normal and has not changed much in the four years I have lived here. Maybe there are shortages of truckers to carry grain from farms to silos and rail heads, but the congestion and panic expressed about the container business is not, or should not be, placed on farmers as well. Bulk ships are totally different than container ships and the two are never interchanged. Bulk ships have big open holds with huge hatches into which grain or salt or coal or iron ore of a host of other materials are loaded. Container ships, on the other hand, can only carry containers, stacked inside the ship or on deck. Supply chain issues with containers should have no crossover to the bull cargo sector. My suspicion is the Times article is misleading, and will only further inflame the rising panic.

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