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.
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.
15 Aug 2015
Having just experienced its busiest July ever, the Virginia International Gateway Saturday closed its gates to truckers because of a power outage. However, vessel and yard activity will continue normally, the port authority announced.
05 Aug 2015
Eight ports on the U.S. East Coast made substantial gains in import market share in the first six months of 2015. A booming import market, West Coast diversions tied to the recent labor crisis, and port investments helped East and Gulf Coast ports edge out all but one of their West Coast counterparts.
20 Jul 2015
U.S East Coast ports took eight spots on a list of top 10 fastest-growing major U.S.
West Coast Port of Oakland
23 Jun 2015
The damage inflicted by months of West Coast port congestion and supply chain delays lingers even now, more than a month after management and labor ratified a new longshore contract on May 22. Trans-Pacific volumes at West Coast ports have returned to normal levels, but the ports and carriers that call them lost market share in the first five months of 2015. The only winners were non-vessel-operating common carriers and East Coast ports.


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.