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

Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The volume of all containers handled by U.S. and Canadian East Coast ports in the fourth quarter of 2013 increased by 4.4 percent year-over-year to 4.2 million 20-foot-equivalent units, according to port-published data collected by the JOC.

News & Analysis

18 Apr 2014
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said APM Terminals wants to sell the semi-automated container terminal it now leases to the Virginia Port Authority.
BMW exports autos through Port of Charleston
01 Apr 2014
South Carolina’s new inland port at Greer will get a big increase in the volume of autos and containers it handles for rail shipment to and from the Port of Charleston over the next couple of years. The leg up will come from the $1 billion investment that BMW announced March 28 to expand production at its automobile plant in nearby Spartanburg over the next two years.
26 Mar 2014
The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor has authorized New York-New Jersey port employers to hire 150 additional longshoremen.
Longshoremen rally against the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
25 Mar 2014
Several hundred New York-New Jersey longshoremen halted work for two hours today to cheer union, business and political officials who denounced the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor and urged repeal of the commission’s authority over dockworker hiring.
Ship-to-shore cranes at Savannah's Garden City Terminal
24 Mar 2014
Georgia’s Port of Savannah moved a record 248,746 TEUs in February, increasing 2.6 percent year-over-year and marking the port’s highest volume of containers ever for the month of February.
24 Mar 2014
The Port of New York and New Jersey said its container terminals have recorded increases in truck gate moves and reductions in dwell time for containers and that operations are improving following winter disruptions.

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Commentary

Combine several hundred longshoremen on a work break with energetic speakers using microphones they don’t need, and you get a lot of noise.

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.