When the Port of Los Angeles loads a container unit full of soybeans onto the CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci on Thursday, the otherwise everyday task will have an audience.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, port officials and longshore labor leaders are all on hand to watch the port process its 10 millionth container unit in a 12-month period, marking the first port in the Western Hemisphere to do so.
“Stacked end-to-end, 10 million containers would circle the world one and a half times,” noted Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners President Jaime Lee in a statement.
When the Port of L.A. closes its 2020-2021 fiscal year on June 30, it anticipates having processed more than 10.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) thanks to a surge in consumer buying during the coronavirus crisis.
Over the past year, the port has worked an average of 15 container ships each day, up from a pre-pandemic average of 10. And longshore labor shifts are up nearly 20% so far this year compared to the average weekly shift count over the past four years.
“With our sustained focus on supply chain digitalization, infrastructure investments and strong business relationships, we have the opportunity to build on this historic milestone,” added Port Executive Director Gene Seroka.
Ranked the busiest port in the United States since 2000, the Port of Los Angeles moved 9.2 million TEUs in 2020, representing $259 billion in trade and marking the fourth-highest volume in the port’s history during an incredibly volatile year for international trade. The port’s previous highest annual container volume on record was in 2018 with 9.5 million TEUs.
“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.”
The Amerigo Vespucci is part of the fleet of the Port of L.A.’s largest shipping line customer, the CMA CGM Group. With 561 vessels serving more than 420 ports on all five continents, CMA CGM last year transported nearly 21 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) containers.