The Port of Long Beach moved 9.38 million cargo containers last year, setting a new record amid an explosive period of growth because of a pandemic surge in imports.

It is an “incredible milestone,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero.

Credit, he said, goes to the workers who kept the goods moving through the supply chain as government and private sector leaders worked to find ways to improve efficiency.

The port ended 2021 with 9,384,368 twenty-foot equivalent units — the half-container size used as an industry standard — which was a 15.7% increase from the previous record, set a year before. The port moved 8.11 million TEUs in 2020.

Imports last year, meanwhile, jumped 14.6% to 4,581,846 TEUs but U.S. exports declined 2.6% compared to last year.

“The ongoing collaboration with our labor force and industry partners lifted us to this extraordinary record during a challenging time,” said Steven Neal, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “We anticipate further collaboration in 2022 as we work toward developing immediate and long-term solutions that will alleviate congestion at our port complex.”

The Port of Los Angeles has not released its end-of-year figures yet.

Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka will give his annual State of the Port address at noon Thursday, Jan. 20.

Cordero will give his State of the Port address at 9 a.m. Feb. 9.

Both are virtual events.

The neighboring ports have seen an onslaught of container ships and cargo since mid-2020 — with no signs of the congestion easing up.

There were 980 container vessel calls at the Port of Long Beach in 2021.

That port — the second busiest in the nation, behind only LA — has focused on collaborating with stakeholders at all levels and expanding operating hours. Temporary staging areas for containers also has been a focus.

Like its counterpart in Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach has delayed implemting the Container Dwell Fee, which would charge ocean carriers for import containers that remain too long on the docks.

The Long Beach and Los Angeles ports have see a combined 55% decline in aging cargo since they announced the initiative Oct. 25, as carriers have pushed to comply voluntarily. The fee option, however, has now also been extended to empty containers, which have stacked up and caused other issues. That fee is set to begin Jan. 30.

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