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.
24 Mar 2014
South Carolina’s Port of Charleston handled 129,657 TEUs in Feburary, down 1.5 percent year-over-year.
20 Mar 2014
Some New York-New Jersey dockworkers will delay their scheduled April 1 retirements in a stopgap move to ease a labor shortage at the port.
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.

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.

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.