The Port of Los Angeles on Thursday became the first port in the Western Hemisphere to process 10 million container units in a 12-month period.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, longshore labor leaders and port officials were among those gathered at the Fenix Marine Services Terminal to watch as the 10 millionth container was loaded onto the CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci.
The CMA CGM Group is the Port of LA’s largest shipping line customer. The ship, which has a carrying capacity of 13,344 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) and sailed from Xiamen, China, in mid-May, honors the Italian explorer who inspired the name America.
“The port is the beating heart of our economy, the backbone of our region’s prosperity and the crossroads that makes Los Angeles a true gateway to the rest of the world,” Garcetti said. “Reaching this remarkable milestone is a reflection of its role as a critical engine of the global supply chain — and a testament to our unmatched port infrastructure and highly skilled workforce.”
When the Port of LA closes its 2020-21 fiscal year on June 30, it is expected it will have processed more than 10.8 million TEUs. Over the past 12 months, port terminals have worked an average of 15 container ships each day, up from a pre-pandemic average of 10 per day.
The port said a pandemic-induced consumer buying surge that began last summer, along with the restocking of retailers’ shelves and e-commerce warehouses across the country, have fueled the dramatic rise in imports.
“What we’ve collectively achieved today is a result of the incredibly hard work and perseverance of many,” Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka said at Thursday’s celebration. “With our sustained focus on supply chain digitization, infrastructure investments and strong business relationships, we have the opportunity to build on this historic milestone.”
The largest shipping line partner, the CMA CGM Group, was represented at the port event by Ed Aldridge, president of CMA CGM and APL North America, who said the 10 millionth container carried more than just cargo, it carried “hope.”
“It shows that, as the pandemic subsides in the United States, the American economy is roaring back to life,” Aldridge said. “CMA CGM is committed to delivering the essentials that keep the country moving as well as proposing agile logistics solutions to its customers, and we look forward to continuing to work with the Port of Los Angeles to deliver the goods Americans need to return to normal.”
In 2020, the Port of LA moved 9.2 million TEUs, the fourth-highest volume year in its history, and facilitated $259 billion in trade. The port’s previous highest annual container volume on record was in 2018, when it moved 9.5 million TEUs.
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Click here for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.