Supply-Chain Challenges

The United States is one of the world's largest trading nations, with nearly $6 trillion in exports and imports of goods and services in 2021 (the latest year available). Growth in U.S.-international trade and transportation has continued at a phenomenal pace following the shift in consumer spending due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nation’s ports have been burdened by workforce, equipment shortages, and container vessel backups, as well as domestic and global supply-chain disruptions. However, they continue to handle unprecedented amounts of cargo. Total trade in goods was more than $4.6 trillion (77 percent) in 2021, increasing year-over-year by nearly $835 billion (22 percent). Further, U.S. imports of goods grew by almost $506 billion (22 percent) while export of goods grew by more than $329 billion (23 percent) between 2020 and 2021. [1]
Waterborne vessels are the leading transportation mode for U.S.-international trade in goods, moving 41 percent of U.S.-international trade value in 2021—almost $1.9 trillion and nearly 1.9 million short tons (69 percent of the weight). [2] In the 1st half of 2022, vessels continued to transport the majority of U.S.-international freight, moving more than $1.1 trillion (43 percent), two-thirds of which was containerized. The following figure shows the total (a11) monthly U.S.-international freight value transported by vessel (containerized and noncontainerized), including both imports and exports. [3] 
Container vessel cargo has been a primary focal point of port performance in recent years, especially since it comprises most consumer goods imported into the United States. The following figure shows that the Nation’s top 10 container ports handled relatively low numbers of monthly twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) in the first half of 2020, dropping to a low point of 2.8 million TEU in March 2020. The ports rebounded in the latter half of 2020, continuing to grow throughout 2021 and into 2022. They continue to handle an unprecedent number of monthly TEU, recently reaching a peak of 4.7 million TEU in May 2022. [4] 
The growing number of TEU handled may result in more containerships waiting to dock and prolonged vessel turn times, especially at ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach (as shown below). Ports may handle more TEU than the rated TEU capacity of the containerships docking because for nearly every container TEU that is unloaded, a loaded container TEU takes its place.
As shown in the figure below, about 90 containerships are waiting at the time of writing to dock at container ports across the country. This is down from the peak of more than 150 set-in early February 2022. In early 2022, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach alone had more than 100 vessels waiting at anchorages in San Pedro Bay, spending in some cases, many more days at anchor than at dock. More recently since mid-2022, there has been a shift as more containerships are waiting at anchorages near ports along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts then the Pacific Coast. [5]
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in coordination with the local Vessel Traffic System implemented vessel queuing system to reduce congestion and emissions in and around the port complex. Depending upon on their direction of travel, vessels must either slow steam or stay 50 to 150 miles out to sea. Thus, containerships are no longer anchored in anchored for extend periods in or near the San Pedro Bay, only until they are close to next in the berthing que. Hence why the considerable decreases in the "LA-LB" and "anchored near LA-LB," as containerships make efforts to call on schedule as queued. [6]
[1] U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics analysis of U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Import & Export Merchandise Trade Statistics, available at U.S. International Trade Data - Foreign Trade - U.S. Census Bureau as of August 2022.
[2] U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Freight Facts & Figures, available at Freight Facts and Figures ( as of August 2022.
[3] U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics analysis of U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, USA Trade Online, available at U.S. International Trade Data - Foreign Trade - U.S. Census Bureau as of August 2022.
[4] U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics; analysis based on data sources cited in Port Profiles, available at Port Performance Freight Statistics Program | Bureau of Transportation Statistics ( as of August 2022.
[5] U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Bureau of Transportation Statistics, based upon USDOT, Maritime Administration, Office of Policy & Plans / U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Vessel Monitoring System, special tabulation, available at Workbook: Freight Indicators ( as of August 2022. 
[6] Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, New Queuing Process for Container Vessels Bound For Ports of LA/Long Beach to Improve Safety and Air Quality Off California Coast (November 2021), available at Container-Vessel-Queuing-Release-FINAL.pdf ( as of September 2022.