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Florida Tries to Lure Ships Waiting at Backlogged California Ports

Florida is encouraging ships to ditch backed-up ports on the West Coast and head its way.

Washington Examiner
Zachary Halaschak, Economic Reporter
Oct 24, 2021

While dozens of ships remain moored off the coast of Los Angeles waiting to be unloaded in a historic supply chain snarl, ports in Florida are humming along with little or no delays and are standing by if shipping companies decide to reroute freighters to the East Coast.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, considered a possible contender for the 2024 Republican presidential ticket, recently invited ships to reroute and offload their shipments in Florida, which has several ports. DeSantis warned that the supply chain problems could worsen as the holiday season approaches.

“We’re here. We have capacity,” DeSantis said while visiting the Jacksonville Port Authority, also known as JAXPORT.

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“We have to make sure people can go Christmas shopping as normal. We have to make sure that all the necessities are there,” he added. “And if it’s because ships are sitting off the coast somewhere else, and they can be rerouted here, and we can get all those shelves stocked, then we want to be a part of that solution.”

A spokeswoman for JAXPORT told the Washington Examiner that the facility welcomes any rerouted ships or new cargo vessels, whether temporary or permanent.

She also said that, unlike the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, which account for roughly 40% of U.S. imports, Jacksonville’s port has not had container vessels backed up at any point during the pandemic. MarineTraffic, a website that maps cargo ships, showed no delays outside of the port as of Friday afternoon.

Port Everglades, Port Tampa Bay, and Port Panama City also have the capacity to bring in additional ships and offload cargo, DeSantis has said.

Mark Derks, chief marketing officer for Florida-based BlueGrace Logistics, said that it is logistically possible and could be economically viable to reroute ships from California to Florida.

“We are expecting increased volume,” Derks told the Washington Examiner, adding that his company expects more ships not just into Florida, but also every other port east of California.

He said locations such as the Port of Tampa and JAXPORT will play critical roles, “but it will all depend on the type of vessel that is coming into those locations and if the port operations and size can support some of those ships that might come this way.”

Derks cited larger ports, such as the Port of Houston and the Port of Savannah, as being able to handle larger vessels.

A spokeswoman for the Port of Houston told the Washington Examiner that the port is not yet seeing an influx of new ships. The Georgia Ports Authority didn’t respond to a request for comment about whether the Port of Savannah was experiencing more traffic than usual, although MarineTraffic showed several cargo ships anchored outside on Friday.

Derks said that while Florida ports are clear of congestion for now, if a flood of new cargo ships begins to reroute to the Sunshine State and the volume becomes overwhelming, they could end up experiencing some backlogs.

Click here to read the full Washington Examiner Article