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Coronavirus Crisis Hitting Shipments Through South Coast Port


The coronavirus crisis has disrupted the global economy, and that’s filtered down to impact the Central and South Coasts in a number of ways. 

Now, the region’s biggest port has been hard hit. 

Kristin Decas is CEO and Port Director for the Port of Hueneme.  She says the port’s fresh produce and fertilizer shipments remain strong, but she says it’s vehicle import/export businesses has been disrupted.

Ship after ship has come in to offload cars, but with processing facilities closed and dealers shut down, thousands of vehicles are backlogged in Ventura County. The port has had to scramble to find places to store about 4,000 vehicles.

Then, with auto sales way off, it’s expected that the number of car carrier ships passing through the port will go from three or four a week to maybe one.

What’s happening to the Port of Hueneme is happening at ports around the world, with supply chains disrupted by coronavirus.  Andrew Palomares is Port Deputy Executive Director.  He says it could take some time for the issues to subside.  

The port is still busy now, but once the backlog of ships for vehicles is cleared, officials are prepared to see a major drop in business.  Port officials say it’s hard to assess exactly what will happen in the next year. 

There are some projections that it could take years for the auto industry to recover, which could have a big impact on the port.  The port industry is asking for federal financial assistance, noting that, like the nation's airports, they are a critical element of the nation's economy.

For now, the port's employees are okay, but those involved in handling shipments could see some major impacts.  There’s also the 15,000 jobs connected to the port and its shipments. 

Many of those jobs, like the people who process arriving vehicles, have already been affected.

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