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Biggest gateway for US imports hit by record ship bottleneck

Ship congestion off the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has now reached an unprecedented level, with some vessels now having to wait at sea in so-called drift zones until anchorages become available.

Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Ship congestion around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach hit an unprecedented level, worsening the bottleneck at the busiest gateway for US imports.

A record 38 container ships are awaiting berth space -- 36 at anchor and two more that were directed to wait in designated areas at sea until anchorages are available, the Marine Exchange of Southern California said in a note late Thursday. It's the first time since 2004 that so-called drift zones have been used to manage traffic into the neighboring ports.

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