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Port Hueneme Becoming 'Relief Valve' For Congestion At Ports Of LA And Long Beach

PORT HUENEME (CBSLA) - With the national supply chain crisis and dozens of ships anchored offshore in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach waiting to offload cargo, some ships that are unable to wait are sailing up the coast to Port Hueneme.

Typically, Hueneme handles cargo like bananas, fresh produce, cars and fertilizer, but with the current backlog of ships, the port's CEO and Director, Kristin Decas, said they have become a "relief valve" for the congestion at the bigger ports down south.

"When cargo comes from Asia to trans-shipment hubs in South America, it can jump on a ship and come up to Hueneme that way," said Decas. "We're also seeing some smaller size vessel charter ships out of smaller niche shipping lines in Asia and bring their cargo here this way."

Decas also said that the port is helping out on the export side.

"Because there's so much money being made on import cargo that a lot of times the export cargo gets left behind, and we're seeing those containers come here to Port Hueneme and be able to get on ships and move to South America trade lanes. In fact, just this first quarter alone, our export volume is up 219%."

Some vessels have opted to unload all their containers at the Port of Hueneme, as a way of avoiding the larger ports all together.

"We certainly can help move certain types of commodities that are more time sensitive to the market. Say, electronics and other commodities can now start coming through here, through these trans-shipment hubs or through these direct charters out of Asia," Decas said.

Port Hueneme
(credit: CBS)

Mobile harbor cranes is how smaller, niche ports, like the Port of Hueneme, on-load and offload containers from vessels. It gives them more flexibility to offload different types of cargo.

During a tour of the port's operations, Decas explained why there's no congestion at the port, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We bring a container in. It gets checked in. It gets put on a chassis and then it goes out to a distribution facility outside the gate where it gets inspected by customs there. Hence, you don't have bottlenecking here inside the gate and at the gate of the port," Decas said.

The director of the port also said she was pleased to hear Governor Newsom ordered other ports to start looking into off-site storage areas or distribution facilities.

"It's important that we continue to act as that operating port, that conductor, to make sure that all aspects of the supply chain are in check and have the capability to handle the volume of cargo coming through this operation," Decas said.

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