The Times podcast: Stuck for days in L.A.’s biggest traffic jam

A cargo ship sailor in a jumpsuit and hardhat
Indonesian seafarer Abrorizki Geraldy Aulia, in the foreground, has served as a crew member of the Southern Korean-flagged bulk cargo ship Pan Amber for 15 months. The 24-year-old has not been able to go ashore.
(Ronald D. White / Los Angeles Times)

Hundreds of thousands of sailors worldwide are stuck on cargo ships far longer than they’d intended, with few chances to contact the outside. Usually ports offer opportunities for a break, but most of these sailors haven’t had access to COVID-19 vaccines, so they’re not allowed to set foot in the United States.


Today, L.A. Times Business reporter Ronald D. White takes us to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s largest. A huge backlog of cargo ships is waiting offshore for a turn to unload merchandise. Meanwhile, the crew aboard is going nowhere fast — and there’s basically no internet access, no visitors, no nice restaurant food delivery. They’re trapped.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guest: Los Angeles Times Business reporter Ronald D. White

More reading:

They’ve been stuck for months on cargo ships now floating off Southern California. They’re desperate

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A tangled supply chain means shipping delays. Do your holiday shopping now

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producer Denise Guerra and producers Shannon Lin, Melissa Kaplan and Ashlea Brown. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.