West Coast Ports

West Coast Ports

Productivity is the name of the game for West Coast ports leading up to the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015. Unlike many of the ports on the East and Gulf coasts that are deepening their harbors and enlarging their marine terminals to prepare for the mega-ships that will begin transiting the canal in 2015, the major West Coast gateways already have 50-foot harbors and terminals of 100 to more than 400 acres in size.

In order to prevent an erosion of market share to East Coast ports, the Seattle-Tacoma, Oakland and Los Angeles-Long Beach gateways must improve their efficiency in unloading vessels, moving containers through the yards and expediting the departure of containers by truck and intermodal rail.

The 25 to 26 container moves per crane per hour that mark West Coast port operations must be increased to at least 30 moves per hour. Terminal operators are exploring options for automating yard, gate and on-dock rail operations. The busiest terminals will invest in costly equipment such as dual-hoist cranes, automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40 percent of U.S. imports from Asia, will spend more than $7 billion in the coming decade on larger, more efficient terminals and improved connectivity to rail and highway networks.

Offering a transit time advantage of a week to 10 days to the U.S. interior, and the potential for reducing per-slot vessel costs by hundreds of dollars with the arrival of vessels having a capacity of 13,000-TEU capacity, West Coast ports want to beat the canal by even further expanding their 70 percent market share of U.S. imports from Asia.

 

Special Coverage

The 12,500-TEU MSC Fabiola broke records when it first called at California ports in 2012.
West Coast ports will spend the coming year in much the same way they spent the past year: preparing for big ships operated by big carrier alliances.

News & Analysis

27 Mar 2015
For U.S. West Coast ports, 2015 was going to be a year to solidify market share in the competitive U.S. container trades as ports on the East Coast prepared for completion of the Panama Canal expansion project. Instead, the first quarter of 2015 has been a nightmare for West Coast ports, with crippling congestion, an unsettled labor contract and declining container volumes.
27 Mar 2015
East and Gulf Coast ports have been winning the market share battle in the U.S. containerized ocean trade since 2008. What happened?
24 Mar 2015
If the leadership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is going to convince the union rank and file that the tentative contract agreement is a good deal for the general membership, the officers will have to fend off a concerted effort by militant members and retired members of the ILWU to jettison the deal.
24 Mar 2015
Recognizing the impact that port congestion is having on the ability of marine terminals to work container ships, the Long Beach Harbor Commission has extended a cap it had placed on dockage fees charged to shipping lines until June 30.
15 Mar 2015
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union local in Portland, Oregon, was ordered to pay $60,000 in damage
12 Mar 2015
Terminal operations up and down the West Coast were in start and stop mode this week in attempting to recover from the backlogs that built up during the tense longshore labor standoff that ended with a tentative agreement between labor and management on Feb. 20th.

Commentary

Intermodal service is sliding back downhill, and things could get worse if federal regulators slow down crude oil trains, a move that would take velocity out of the entire network.

More Commentary

Video

Don Krusel, Prince Rupert Port Authority president/CEO, speaks about competitiveness, labor relations and plans for expansion.
Dr. Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director, Port of Long Beach, discusses port productivity and the impact of mega-ships, the role of infrastructure investment, and the need to emphasize system improvements to increase efficiency.
Acting Long Beach Port Director Al Moro talks about the ambitious projects to prepare the port for the big new container ships that are calling there. POLB and private investors are providing billions of dollars to build new rail lines and a huge automated container terminal, as well as to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which is too low for the new ships.