Florida is encouraging ships to ditch backed-up ports on the West Coast and head its way.
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.
“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.
Brian Marks, executive director of the University of New Haven’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, said that in some circumstances it can be economically feasible for shipping companies to reroute their ships to other locations because of the high cost of being delayed — although doing so brings with it some logistical obstacles.
For example, if a ship is rerouted from the Port of LA to the Port of Miami, the entire supply chain would have to also be reconfigured, including trucks to ship the goods to their final locations after docking in Florida.
“Delivering elsewhere still requires you to offload, put it on a truck, take it to a warehouse, and distribute,” Marks said. “So having an information system that provides you visibility of the transits of these various modes of transportation that are involved in shipping is critical.”
In addition to rerouting ships, some recipients of goods that are being manufactured overseas are also reevaluating their ability to ship using air freight, Marks said. That increased demand has caused air cargo rates to soar to record levels.
Another consideration is that of energy costs, which have been elevated in recent months and have sparked fear of soaring prices as winter approaches. To relocate from the Port of LA to Florida it takes a ship heading south and traversing the Panama Canal, a journey of thousands of miles.
Still, DeSantis’s office thinks the trek would still be worth it. Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, told the Washington Examiner that ships stuck in California could be waiting up to five weeks to dock and unload their cargo, while it’s only a seven-day trip from the backlogged ports of Southern California to Florida’s coasts.
She also pointed out in an email that Port Everglades, located on Florida’s east coast, is expecting a “massive” shipment from India this weekend. JAXPORT also announced this month that international shipping giant Hapag-Lloyd has temporarily rerouted a European-U.S. container service through its facilities.
“During this time of unprecedented port disruption, Jacksonville’s efficiencies on both the landside and waterside continue to make us stand out in the industry,” said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green.
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Original Author: Zachary Halaschak
Original Location: Florida tries to lure ships waiting at backlogged California ports