East Coast Ports

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

Dockworker at the Port of Savannah
The new or extended contract being explored by International Longshoremen’s Association and its East and Gulf Coast employers could run until 2025, seven years beyond the current agreement’s 2018 expiration.

News & Analysis

31 Aug 2015
The port of Savannah has had blistering year so far, with huge volume increases and market share gains in the Southeast and nationally. But for the leader of the Georgia Ports Authority, any optimism tied to being the fastest growth major U.S. port this year must be tempered by continuing difficulties at other East Coast ports that could end up affecting Savannah
28 Aug 2015
Just days before trans-Pacific ocean carriers aim to implement aggressive general rate increases on eastbound services to North America, average spot rates from Shanghai to the U.S. hit their lowest level in almost four years.
28 Aug 2015
The California Trucking Association tied its support of truck appointments at Los Angeles-Long Beach container terminals to creation of port-wide metrics to gauge the appointments’ effectiveness.
Holt's Packer terminal, port of Philadelphia
26 Aug 2015
Dredging of the 102.5-mile river channel to 45 feet is just one of many projects under way as Philadelphia and other Delaware River ports build new terminals that can handle various cargoes or rev up long-postponed plans for new terminals.
trucks line up at gates at Oakland port
25 Aug 2015
The Port of Oakland’s announcement last week that it intends to open its terminal gates an extra day each week demonstrates two hard, cold facts about U.S. port operations in this era of big ships. The traditional menu of five weekday gates each week is no longer adequate to handle today’s cargo volumes, but extra gates cost money, and someone — often the shipper — has to pick up the tab.
17 Aug 2015
A modest spike in freight rates in the eastbound Pacific last week offers the first indication that the trade could experience a strong peak-shipping season — and the threat of marine terminal congestion.

Commentary

The International Longshoremen's Association, in opening the door to the possibility of a long-term contract, certainly is looking to capitalize on the congestion and raw memories of the recent past that have put West Coast ports in shipper crosshairs. The ILA, indeed, is preying on that shipper sentiment, and the soon-to-open expanded Panama Canal that could shift more cargo from West Coast to East Coast. And who can blame it? That’s business.

Video

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.
The Port of Virginia is aiming to boost container traffic by capitalizing on its post-Panamax draft, tapping improved intermodal service, increasing customer service and developing distribution centers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could begin dredging the Savannah River navigation channel to a target depth of 47 feet as soon as the second half of this year, said Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.