Representatives of Orient Overseas Container Line and the Port of Long Beach signed a 40-year lease for a 305-acre container terminal at the Southern California port.
The Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project is significant because it will result in a highly automated, environmentally friendly facility that Long Beach officials say will set the standard for future marine terminal development.
“I cannot overstate the significance of this agreement,” said Chris Lytle, Long Beach executive director, at Tuesday’s signing ceremony in Hong Kong. “The Middle Harbor property is key to the future competitiveness of the Port of Long Beach. In fact, we call it our model for the port of the future.”
The two parties in January announced they had reached a tentative agreement on the Middle Harbor lease that will generate $4.6 billion for the port over the next 40 years.
The Middle Harbor project will combine two adjacent terminals into one large, rectangular facility with an on-dock railyard. Phase 1 of the project is scheduled for completion in 2016. At full build-out in 2021, the terminal will have an annual capacity of 3.1 million 20-foot container units.
Philip Chow, chief executive of OOCL, said the lease agreement was years in the making and came about as a result of the support of the city and Port of Long Beach, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and residents of Long Beach.
Lytle said the redeveloped terminal will handle almost three times the volume of the existing terminal while cutting harmful diesel emissions in half.
Susan Wise, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, said OOCL has been a leader in the industry through its participation in the port’s environmental initiatives such as the Green Flag slow-steaming program.
As a highly automated facility, the Middle Harbor terminal will efficiently handle the massive ships of the future, such as the 13,000-TEU vessels OOCL intends to deploy in its trans-Pacific service to Long Beach. Representatives of the ILWU were present in Hong Kong for the signing ceremony.