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Ports & Terminals

Port of Long Beach’s Cordero says port coping with “unprecedented crisis”

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero says: “We are coping with an unpredicted crisis caused by COVID-19 virus and the threats it poses to the supply chain.”

In an interview with AJOT, Cordero said “our first priority is the protection of the work force and ensuring that all of the people that work at the Port of Long Beach complex are safe and protected from contamination.”

He noted: “It is with this priority in mind that the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have agreed to set aside one hour for the cleaning of equipment and machinery between shifts. This is an important precaution for us to protect our workers. However, what this means is that trucks are backed up at the gates waiting to pick up and deliver containers and so this adds a complication to the process but so far there have been no serious disruptions.”

The Port’s other priority is “to ensure that the cargo moves…. This is happening thanks to collaboration amongst all our maritime partners.”

The Port is working closely with the Long Beach Department of Health, U.S. Coast Guard and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to keep track of incoming vessels and ensure there is no spread of the virus.”

Cordero noted that “We are facing a problem with containers that are not being picked up and are being stranded at the port because of problems with the end user and other dislocations. This situation has prompted calls to relax demurrage rules. We hope that people will not take advantage of the situation. The MTOs (Marine Terminal Operators) are doing their best to keep the flow of containers moving.”

He also noted that there has been a problem with the large number of empty containers accumulating at the Port due to the economic shutdown in China. This has caused a scarcity of empty containers for truckers at the Port and particularly with exporters: “Now that China has opened back up; the carriers have sent 19,000 teu and larger container ships to pick up the empties and transport them back so as to return filled with imported products.”

He did not speculate about possible industry consolidations as the business slows down for terminals, warehouses, shippers and ocean carriers: “I cannot predict whether there will be consolidations in the future arising from the COVID-19 crisis. No supply chain is ever immunized from consolidation.”

Mario Cordero
Mario Cordero

Finally, Cordero revealed that “Carnival Cruises has been in discussion with the City of Long Beach about the possible deployment of one or more cruise ships as floating hospitals for non-COVID-19 patients. The Port of Long Beach has been involved with these discussions. The Port has proposed several sites at the Port complex. One issue that is still not resolved is which patients might be relocated onto the cruise ships. As you know, the USNS Mercy is already providing a floating hospital function for non-COVID-19 patients at the Port of Los Angeles. A decision about Carnival’s offer has yet to be made by the City.”

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis

WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT

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