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

US West Coast ports focus on operational improvements.

News & Analysis

17 Jun 2017
At a time when the Southern California Ports' hold on discretionary cargo is tenuous, the state's all-out commitment to mitigating climate change is taking priority over port competitiveness.
30 Jun 2014
Criticism of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union by an official of the International Association of Machinists provoked an angry response at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition conference in San Francisco at the weekend.
26 Jun 2014
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has at last found its choice to head the port.
26 Jun 2014
It’s too late for some retailers depending on shipments through West Coast ports. If they have no contingency plans for a potential strike or slowdown tied to International Longshore and Warehouse Union negotiations, they sit with fingers crossed.
25 Jun 2014
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued guidelines for ship and cargo contingency plans ahead of a possible West Coast trade disruption arising from the expiration of the longshore labor union contract.
25 Jun 2014
West coast Canadian ports experienced double-digit year-over-year volume growth in May.

Commentary

California's all-out commitment to mitigating climate change appears to be taking priority over maintaining the competitiveness of the state’s seaports, particularly the critical Los Angeles-Long Beach gateway. 

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