East Coast Ports

Dredging: how deep are U.S. ports?

Although many U.S. East Coast ports are scrambling to deepen their harbors and expand infrastructure to handle the much-bigger ships from the Far East that will start calling after the Panama Canal opens its new locks, the ports are already handling the post-Panamax ships that are coming from India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East via the Suez Canal. Call it a rehearsal for the 2015 opening night.

Baltimore and Norfolk, which already have the 50 feet of water needed to accommodate the big ships, are sitting pretty, but they are not resting on their laurels. Norfolk is adding new train services, and Baltimore plans a new double-stack intermodal rail terminal. Five other ports, including Charleston, Jacksonville, Miami, New York/New Jersey and Savannah, got a leg up when the Obama Administration fast-tracked the federal approval process for their deepening and expansion projects, which could pave the way for some of them to finish by 2015.

Although Asian cargo now provides the majority of the throughput at many ports, the trans-Atlantic trade with Europe, like the Energizer Bunny, just keeps going and going, underpinning those ports’ business.

East Coast ports maintained their lead in containerized exports in the first nine months of 2012 and increased their share of import and export markets.

Special Coverage

trucks at Global terminal gate in New York/New Jersey
Truckers at the Port of New York and New Jersey have begun applying for grants to help finance replacement of up to 80 of the several thousand older trucks that are set to be banned from port terminals in less than 14 months.

News & Analysis

Port of Savannah
03 Feb 2016
U.S. East Coast ports toppled the U.S. West Coast in international containerized ocean volume and market share for the first nine months of 2015, handling 47.1 percent of the 24 million TEUs moving through the U.S., while West Coast ports handled 44.5 percent.
01 Feb 2016
Cargo diversions from West Coast ports because of labor strife in early 2015 helped make a handful of East and Gulf Coast ports the fastest-growing in the nation last year.
20 Jan 2016
Despite watershed changes taking place in the shipping industry in 2016, the market share of containerized imports of East, West and Gulf Coast ports this year is set look a lot like it did during the second half of 2015, according to port and industry analysts.
Port of Virginia's John Reinhart at PPNA 2015.
19 Jan 2016
Port of Virginia's John Reinhart on their strategy of making many smaller improvements for a lasting, sustained change to operations to expand with the industry.
12 Jan 2016
Even though the official opening of Panama Canal’s third set of locks is only about four months away, the true impact of the $5.25 billion project on U.S. East and West Coast ports is yet to be determined because of the many factors that affect international trade flows, the vice president of marketing at Manzanillo International Terminals said Monday.
04 Jan 2016
The Port of New York and New Jersey handled a record 286,798 cargo containers of all sizes in November as an increase in import loads offset a dip in loaded exports at the largest U.S. East Coast port.

Commentary

The Port of New York and New Jersey and its new port commerce director, former Port of Los Angeles executive Molly Campbell, face a challenge: The port must solve its current congestion issues before the next wave of big ships hits New York-New Jersey, probably next year.

More Commentary

Video

Port of Virginia's John Reinhart on their strategy of making many smaller improvements for a lasting, sustained change to operations to expand with the industry.
Port of Virginia's Russell Held on its short-haul inland network, rail connections and the Panama Canal expansion.
Global Terminal is undergoing major expansion while continuing cargo operations. Guy Buzzoni, vice president of infrastructure development at Global Terminal, discusses the challenges -- and explains why he's watching the weather.