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

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.
Port of Charleston
23 Jan 2014
South Carolina’s Port of Charleston handled more than 1.6 million TEUs for the full year of 2013...
23 Jan 2014
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill to eliminate a cargo facility charge that is being challenged before the Federal Maritime Commission. New York also must approve repeal legislation before it takes effect.
Port of Virginia cranes
22 Jan 2014
The Port of Virginia handled a record 2.22 million TEUs in the full year of 2013, resulting from increased import and export volumes...
Railroad track in winter
17 Jan 2014
The polar vortex didn’t put the U.S. into a deep freeze for long but the widespread chill is still causing transportation problems for shippers, railroads and drayage truckers. Those problems may be contributing to stronger-than-usual business for over-the-road truckers.
09 Jan 2014
Truckers at the Port of New York and New Jersey say the first days of 2014 have greeted them with congestion reminiscent of the gridlock that delayed cargo pickups and deliveries last summer.

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.