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.

News & Analysis

16 Jun 2016
Coalition calls for the port authority to reinstate ban on trucks made before 2007.
04 May 2016
Container volumes have returned to pre-recession levels and carriers are deploying super-post-Panamax ships in the U.S. trades.
03 May 2016
The West Coast ports’ share of Asia imports heading into the United States was shrinking even before congestion nearly paralyzed ports from Long Beach to Seattle last year.
01 May 2016
Ports will have to compete for business as never before over the next decade, Port of Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said.
26 Apr 2016
A sharp turnaround in industrial real estate activity around the Savannah port underscores the white-hot demand nationally for logistics properties as well as shippers putting in place long-term plans to use Southeast versus West Coast ports to access the regional market.
08 Mar 2016
A strong dollar took a big chunk out of exports at major U.S. gateways in 2015. Most of the U.S. ports that handle more than 50,000 20-foot-equivalent units recorded declines in export volume, according to preliminary data from PIERS, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS.

Commentary

The reaction of shippers to West Coast longshore labor disruption is evolving in such a way that West Coast ports have reason for concern.

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.