Coast Guard monitoring increased number of oil tankers near LA/LB Port complex

The Coast Guard Cutter Narwhal is shown on a patrol of an anchorage where several tanker ships are moored offshore of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, April 23, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard)

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that an increased number of oil tankers are anchored near the Los Angeles and Long Beach port complex, and personnel were monitoring the situation.

As of Thursday afternoon, 27 tanker vessels anchored off the coast, the Coast Guard reported. Information was not immediately available on the usual number of such vessels on a given day.

Coast Guard Cutter Narwhal patrols the coast of Southern California, April 23, 2020. (U.S. Coast Guard - Petty Officer Third Class Aidan Cooney)

Oil prices have plummeted during the global coronavirus pandemic, causing a worldwide glut. The extent of the pandemic's role in anchoring the tankers was not immediately quantifiable, nor the role of precautionary measures, if any, being taken in unloading them.

Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach coordinates operations in an area of responsibility spanning more than 350 miles along the California coast, from Morro Bay to San Clemente, and encompassing the nation's largest port complex.

The Vessel Traffic Service provides anchorage assignments based on physical requirements, such as a vessel's draft, length, type, as well as logistical requirements such as duration of stay and intentions while at anchor.

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"Due to the unique nature of this situation, the Coast Guard is constantly evaluating and adapting our procedures to ensure the safety of the vessels at anchor and the protection of the surrounding environment," said Cmdr. Marshall Newberry, from Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach.

"Coast Guard watchstanders, in partnership with the Marine Exchange of Southern California, are closely monitoring each anchorage to manage the increased number of tank vessels we're seeing off the California coast," Newberry said.

A crew aboard Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco's Forward Operating Base Point Mugu MH-65 Dolphin helicopter conducts an overflight near an anchorage site off the coast of Los Angeles, California, April 23, 2020. The Coast Guard is monitoring the (U.S. Coast Guard)

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The Maritime Transportation System is an integrated network that consists of 25,000 miles of coastal and inland waters and rivers serving 361 ports. The MTS supports $4.6 trillion of economic activity each year and accounts for the employment of more than 23 million Americans.

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