Port of Oakland introduces innovative solution to supply chain issues

A cargo ship is seen docked at the Port of Oakland July 1, 2004 in Oakland, California.
A cargo ship is seen docked at the Port of Oakland July 1, 2004 in Oakland, California. Photo credit Getty Images

Amid supply chain issues, the Port of Oakland is implementing an innovative solution to the congestion problem filling the Bay with diesel burning ships.

Through a new queuing process, vessels will now be kept 50 miles off the coast of Northern California. "They'll be waiting out at sea," Marilyn Sandifur, a Port of Oakland spokesperson, told KCBS Radio. "The reason why this is very valuable is emissions reduction – it will mean that we will have very few ships that anchor in the Bay, improving air quality in the Bay Area."

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Due to an increase of online shopping during the pandemic, the demand for imports has overwhelmed container ships. The average amount of cargo being held per vessel is 50 percent more compared to last year, Sandifur said.

"When ships are off schedule, it throws off the supply chain and all the links in the supply chain, so you get this bunching up of vessels," she explained.

Not only does the port solution reduce diesel emissions, but it also improves ship operation. "With more space out at sea, we can put more distance between the vessels," she said. "It's better for safety for the ships and crews."

With a queue schedule to reference, ships will also be able to implement "slow steaming," she added – an environmentally friendly technique where ships slow down and use less fuel on their way to the Bay.