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

16 Apr 2014
The Port of Jacksonville is poised to get the congressional go-ahead to deepen its harbor in order to handle larger container ships, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a needed report.
10 Mar 2014
Many U.S. East Coast and Gulf ports will struggle to handle the larger container ships the P3 and G6 carrier alliances likely will deploy on trans-Atlantic routes, according to Drewry Maritime Research.
06 Mar 2014
The Obama administration has said Georgia can’t use its own money to begin deepening Savannah’s harbor until a new Water Resources Development Act is passed. Port and state officials say they still hope to start dredging this year.
03 Mar 2014
Hiring of longshoremen at the Port of New York and New Jersey is lurching forward after months of finger-pointing and acrimonious litigation. For port users, the new hires can’t start work soon enough.
Port of Seattle
27 Feb 2014
The ports of Seattle and Tacoma saw year-over-year drops in container volumes in January, while the Port of Virginia recorded a 5.4 percent gain...
24 Feb 2014
Port drayage operators in Virginia are complaining about congestion and slow turn times at at Hampton Roads container terminals.

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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.