This is a Jedi update on the situation at Los Angeles Harbor. Several months ago I noted the number of ships docked off of the port of Los Angeles and that few ships seemed to be in port or travelling into/out of the port.
Here's my observations from yesterday - July 12, 2013.
I drove through the Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach Freeway (710), Terminal Island fwy, Harbor Fwy (110), and the bridges yesterday. The Battleship Iowa sits docked below the largest bridge in San Pedro. The sky was beautiful and you could see for miles.
Along the freeway and bridge through the port area, containers from Maersk, Cosco, Yang Ming, Evergreen, and many other companies are stacked in groups of ten. That's ten containers side to side. But, they're stacked five, six, and seven high. So a block of 70 in a block. But, then the containers go on like that ... for what seems to be miles. I think perhaps one mile in every direction from the center of the port, there are stacks of containers!
I counted 500 containers adjacent to the freeway alone. A stack of flatbeds that are used to haul the containers is also adjacent to the freeway. There must be 10-20 of these flatbeds in one verticle pile with wheels attached. The flatbed chasses are stacked up to 4 or 5 stories high and with maybe 20-30 of these chasses stacked up. Each is the portion of the truck that is the back wheels (4 or 8 wheels attached) and then the metal frame that supports the container being hauled. I think I saw something like 500 or maybe even 1000 of these frames along the road along maybe a quarter mile of road in perhaps 20-30 piles. I didn't count because I had to drive on the freeway.
When you get up high on the bridges, you can see that the containers go on for what seems to be miles. They stretch and seem to cover any area of open space covering every section of the port of Los Angeles stacked 5 to maybe 8 high. We're talking 6 stories to 8 stories worth of these containers.
There must be 10,000 to 20,000 of these shipping containers all sitting on the port grounds and it seems to be miles of these containers.
I drove around between 11 AM and 2 PM. I first passed through in the morning and passed through again in the afternoon.
There were freight train cars in the port on the rails. Some of the cars had the containers double stacked. One train seemed to have only containers labeled "Evergreen". That train seemed to have maybe 20 containers. But, none of the trains moved yesterday. Perhaps they move the trains at night or on the weekend?
I've never seen this number of containers stacked at the Port of Los Angeles. I've gone down this road many times and usually these areas have containers, but not this many.
There are several interpretations of seeing these containers stacked.
One thought is that some of these containers are the arriving Christmas goods from China. It's July and third quarter is starting. Christmas consumer goods need to get imported from China and distributed to the regional warehouses of the major chain stores. Is this huge number of stacked containers actually containing things? Could these containers be the US Christmas sales goods from China. But, if these containers actually have things inside, why are tens of thousands of containers sitting inert, not moving, and stacked so high? Could it be that the US Customs hasn't cleared these imported goods? Is sequestration limiting the ability of the US CBP to clear imports and exports?
My take is that these containers are mostly empty.
1. I've driven through this port previously and I've never seen so many containers stacked. This is not a normal situation. Either the containers are being imported, exported, or are empty and awaiting use.
2. These containers are not under the big cranes. If the containers were under the big cranes, then I could believe that the containers are carrying supplies or goods. Therefore, I do not believe that the containers are carrying anything.
These containers are stacked in the open yards with no cranes overhead. The containers had to have been stacked by a crane that moves around the yard. Because the stack seems to be 70 to 80 feet high, I conclude that the crane must be no more than 7 or 8 containers high (probably a 100 foot crane). The crane can not lift the container higher than itself. There are small spaces between the containers and this is likely for the crane to drive around the yard.
3. There are no web cams on the Port of Los Angeles area and stopping is not permitted on the bridges. Those roads are 55 mph freeways (the Seaside Freeway - 710). It is not possible to photograph the scene if you are driving alone.
Just to make sure I wasn't seeing things, I went to maps.google.com. The review of the images stored at maps.google.com gives me confidence in my jedi mind power.
This is a view with the harbor looking normal. You can see some containers stacked maybe 5 high in the distant background, but the foreground is mostly stacked one or maybe two high. Mostly, the containers are not stacked at all with alot of empty ground.
Yesterday, that batch of flat bed trailers was three to four times higher. The stacks of containers are six or seven high and completely covering the entire lots on both sides of the freeway.
There is a huge slow-down in import/export through the Port of Los Angeles. Shipping companies must be storing their empty containers on the grounds of the Port of Los Angeles.
I conclude that another trip through the port next week may be in order.
Unfortunately, NBC's Today in LA announced that one of the major bridges at the Terminal Island freeway is being taken out today and is being replaced over the next few weeks. So, traffic in the area is being rerouted.
I think the 710 Seaside freeway is okay to pass.
If I go back up that way, I may take a camera to photograph the scene for you guys.
My confusion about this economic "recovery" ended yesterday.
There is no recovery.
Essentially, the policies in Washington DC and Sacramento have killed trade.
The empty containers sit inert piled 70 to 80 feet high and stretch for miles.
You can not hide 10,000 to 20,000 empty containers.
Those empty containers are like a grave stone marking the death of global trade.