Noticing more big ships at anchor instead of docked? Here’s why

While sizable ships anchor off Don Armeni from time to time, seldom have we seen a loaded-with-containers cargo ship there, appearing almost close enough to touch, as did the OOCL London this morning. Over the weekend, Beach Drive Blog pointed out the two cargo ships visible at anchor across the Sound, off Manchester; from West Seattle, you can see two more ships anchored off Magnolia.

It’s a visible effect of an alleged “slowdown” that comes six months into West Coast contract talks between the ILWU, which says it’s “congestion,” and the terminal operators of the Pacific Maritime Association, which accuses the ILWU of “orchestrated job actions.” According to this online schedule, OOCL London was to dock at Terminal 18 yesterday; one of the ships waiting off Manchester, the Hyundai Force, was to dock at T-18 Saturday.

The pace of work is reported to have picked up at both ports today – at the Port of Seattle per its seaport division managing director Linda Stryk in a phone conversation with WSB, and Tacoma per this an updated “operation status” online. Styrk calls the increase in ships at anchor a “snowballing effect” of last week’s “very low productivity,” while adding, “productivity improved over the weekend” but warning “it will take some time to catch up with the snowball effect.” Since the Port’s only role in this is as a “landlord,” as Styrk put it, the best they can do is engage in “advocacy and raising concerns up the flagpole, encouraging both parties to come to terms.” That advocacy, she added, includes making note of the effects the slowdown is having on exports. “People recognize that low productivity is not good for jobs; hopefully the advocacy of impacts will help them keep moving in a more-positive direction.”

TUESDAY AFTERNOON NOTE: The Hyundai Force left Manchester today for Tacoma.

26 Replies to "Noticing more big ships at anchor instead of docked? Here's why"

  • flimflam November 10, 2014 (2:30 pm)

    surprise, surprise – lame “negotiation” tactics by the union. shameful.

  • cjboffoli November 10, 2014 (2:56 pm)

    I wonder if those container ships have some kind of tender that they can put down so that the crew can go to shore for some r&r or if perhaps for Customs & Immigration reasons they all have to stay aboard.

  • Lola November 10, 2014 (4:27 pm)

    They do not let the guys off the boat as it needs to have them aboard if something should happen with the containers, or if the ship needs tending. My son is a Merchant Mariner and even when he was docked down in Tacoma he could only get off for a few hours to go get something to eat if his shift was over.

  • Correction November 10, 2014 (4:32 pm)

    I believe ILWU is an acronym for International Longshore and Warehouse Union. This is the same union that halted work on the tunnel. The number and content of disputes this union has documented on the National Labor Relations Board site is disturbing.

    • WSB November 10, 2014 (4:47 pm)

      Thanks, Correction, that’s two things I’ve had to fix on this and our error rate is usually pretty low. I apologize. Have just shortened it for now.

  • Jay November 10, 2014 (7:53 pm)

    Cjboffoli- there’s a boat stationed at the Harbor Island marina that I believe works as a transport service to move people to/from ships anchored in the bay. I’ve used Shiptracker before to watch it leave the dock, travel to ships, then immediately return back to its dock.

  • Nick November 10, 2014 (8:07 pm)

    Unions just suck up cash From members and protect a few senior workers and don’t know how to evolve. They are so obsolete

  • Longshore Wife November 10, 2014 (9:38 pm)

    Because I can’t let the union bashing continue, here’s another side of the story –

  • JeffK November 10, 2014 (10:11 pm)

    I have been curious about the size of the container ships at the port. The OOCL London holds 8,063 TEU (see link) and is 1,060 feet long. The Maersk Triple-E ships, which are the largest, hold 18,340 TEU and are 1,312 feel long.

    Matson has one of the smaller ships seen in port with the MV Manoa. It holds 2,824 TEU and is 860 feet.


  • joel November 10, 2014 (10:11 pm)

    what a union work slow down?….must be a typo as they would NEVER allow that to happen. if they are slowing down work does that mean they are going backwards? the tunnel dirt moving…2 unions fighting over 4 jobs. the construction company offered to share the work but the longshoreman refused. I thought the brothers helped the brothers out?

  • joel November 10, 2014 (10:13 pm)

    the link to the story is from the union website…of course that’s going to be one sided. that’s like going to a democratic website and seeing highlights of how great the republicans are.

  • miws November 10, 2014 (10:15 pm)

    Thank you for that, Longshore Wife.


    I get SO tired of the Union Bashing, and Labor Bashing in general, when Stories such as this come up.


    West Seattleites used to be Proud of their Labor Heritage…



  • Bella November 11, 2014 (1:17 am)

    Has anyone noticed that half of the Port is just empty? Some say due to modernization or that APL closed shop but its been empty for almost the whole year. I am sure the “congestion” will continue unless our Port has slowed down because they are using the New Vancouver BC port?

  • Mark47n November 11, 2014 (5:04 am)

    Nick, I’ve heard similar sentiment about unions being obsolete and I wonder what do you do for a living? Do you have a job that has rotating equipment or toxic chemicals? OSHA was formed from union pressure to stop injuring workers. Do you work 16 hours a day 7 days a week? The 40 hour work week was put in place due to union pressure. Weeekends, healthcare, the list goes on. Strange how people think that unions are obsolete now that vacation usage is at an all time low, production per hour is at an all time high and pay is stagnant in the face of inflation. All of this coincides with union membership being at its lowest since the 1960s. I won’t excuse bad behavior from unions, or their members, but I certainly wont condemn unions as a whole. I’m thankful for them everyday. By the way, what at thise members pay for is bargaining which employers do, increasingly, in bad faith (see Boeing), training for new employees (called apprentices, I was one many years ago), contributions to the pension funds and to help defray the cost of business, yes, a union is a business, it has employees. I recommend you read a bit about how workers were treated in the 20s and 30s and about how is was considered acceptable, and planned for, to have one fatality per story of construction. When you consider that part look at the skyline of Seattle and Bellevue and consider how many people would never gone home, all for the sake of “progress”. You dont know how good you have it, thanks to unions.

  • Retailhurting November 11, 2014 (5:41 am)

    There is a reason that Teacher’s strike in September and not July. This is the same thing. A “work safe” ( slowdown ) tactic right before the holiday season. Some experts project a potential $50B hit to the economy due to this “slow down”. Way to go teamsters !Way to hold the already frail economy hostage… and for what exactly ?

  • Greg November 11, 2014 (7:20 am)

    In the United States people have the freedom or organize themselves into aa union. Unions run in a democratic way, as opposed to a totalitarian way like the corporations. If you hate unions so much and don’t care much for work place rules, I’m sure there is a nice factory job in Bangladesh where you’d be freed from such issues.

  • James November 11, 2014 (8:10 am)

    In regard to “Retailhurting” concern about holiday shopping being impacted by the slowdown; someone correct me if I am wrong, but generally speaking, I believe most if not all holiday retail items have already made shore by the end of October.

  • Nick November 11, 2014 (10:27 am)

    I know all about the history of unions blab blah blah. Glad they did some positive things 80 years ago. As I stated they refuse to evolve many union workers find little value in return for the dues they pay. I actually work in a mixed Union environment and regularly see in fighting between unions over work which is so dumb because we are all on the same team plus it is really inefficient.

  • Community Member November 11, 2014 (10:44 am)

    Re retail goods arriving for the upcoming holiday season, this year many retailers imported goods early:

    They’ve been working without a contract since July. You could view this as the PMA creating an artificial crisis to sway public opinion against the union.

  • ltfd November 11, 2014 (3:09 pm)

    ‘Retailhurting’ posted, “There is a reason that Teacher’s strike in September and not July”.

    Actually, ‘Retail’, if you do a little research, you will find that most school districts don’t present the final version of a proposed contract for a vote until right before the school year is scheduled to start – that’s a school district bargaining tactic.

  • Mark47n November 11, 2014 (6:38 pm)

    Bla, blah, blah is a compelling argument.

  • dis November 11, 2014 (10:26 pm)

    Thank you Mark 47N. A lot of people have consumed the Kool-Aid. The long anti-union campaign waged by the corporations has taken hold, and the people are already getting what they deserve. “Democracy” was incompatible with capitalism anyway.

  • GT November 12, 2014 (7:09 pm)

    I worked on the seattle ports several times as a “casual” which is a non union temporary worker. its like a ghost town unloading ships, only needs a crane operator, non stop flow of trucks (who are not ILWU drivers)and two guys. Who need no training at all. The two guys either install or remove the container connecting lugs….sure there is some miscellaneous stuff. Half the time I waited out in the rest shack or slept on one of the ships waiting for something to do. Once me and another casual got yelled at for working too fast. This was over 30 years ago, and if anything it should be easier now. This union should be eliminated, they are not engineers or skilled or anything at all. No reason to negotiate or renew any contract. Just run an ad on craigslist.

  • Tony November 12, 2014 (11:02 pm)

    @GT , great idea, let’s run an ad on Craigslist and find the cheapest possible labor we can. Then we won’t give them 40hr a week work schedules so we don’t have to pay for medical benifits. On top of that they will have no pension or retirement plans in place so after working all their lives they will be able to live just under the poverty level…. Sounds like a great idea to me…. SMH

  • AlkiVegan November 15, 2014 (1:06 pm)

    I feel bad for human trafficking victims locked in the containers while the delay continues. And seriously, there must be a connection between the slowdown and the closure of T5.

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