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

27 Jun 2016
Imports at the Port of New York and New Jersey fell in May compared with the year before.
Tire tracks in snow
04 Feb 2014
Winter weather has combined with congestion at terminals and backlogs for repairs to produce chassis shortages at the Port of New York and New Jersey and at Midwest rail terminals.
Container ship entering Savannah River.
04 Feb 2014
SEA ISLAND, Ga. — The port of Savannah is drawing closer to a moment deemed critical to the future of the United States’ fastest-growing port over the past decade and a half: commencement of construction of its 47-foot deepening project.
04 Feb 2014
A new skirmish has broken out in a joint employer-union lawsuit challenging the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor’s revised rules for hiring dockworkers in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
03 Feb 2014
Prospects for East Coast ports are brightening, especially on the export side, as the global economic recovery fuels demand for everything from automobiles to grain and forest products. But a number of variables could disrupt the ports’ projections, on the upside and the downside.

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.