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

04 Oct 2015
A small port in Maine is enjoying a renaissance thanks to lobsters, L.L. Bean and Eimskip, the Icelandic container line that specializes in the refrigerated trade.
25 Sep 2015
A study of ways to improve waterborne freight transport across New York harbor has narrowed preferred options to either an improved railcar barge “float” system or an underwater freight tunnel between New Jersey and Brooklyn.
24 Sep 2015
James T. McDermott Jr., executive director of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority since 1994, said he will retire effective next April 15.
16 Sep 2015
Officials of the International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance said they’re committed to trying to work out East and Gulf coast port labor contract that would extend to 2025.
South Carolina inland port at Greer
16 Sep 2015
astman Chemical is avoiding hundreds of 300-mile round truck trips a month to the Port of Charleston by loading them at the inland port in Greer, South Carolina.
Panama Canal
16 Sep 2015
Volume-based toll reductions for container lines that regularly deploy large vessels through the expanded Panama Canal will make the canal route from Northeast Asia to the U.S. East Coast highly competitive with West Coast and Suez Canal routings, a Panama Canal Authority executive said.


With much of our surface transportation infrastructure decaying and becoming functionally obsolete, we can’t wait 40 years for Congress to confront the threat posed to our economy by inadequate railways, tunnels, bridges and roads, including those connecting to seaports.


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.