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

Weekly wrap-up for Nov. 22
22 Nov 2014
Another week of the top stories on JOC.com focusing on the crisis-level congestion plaguing U.S. West Coast ports, although one story on Horizon Lines slipped into the Top 10.
21 Nov 2014
Volume gains in Tacoma helped offset another month of year-over-year losses in Seattle, pushing Puget Sound container throughput up in October for the first time in four months.
21 Nov 2014
Five carriers today joined Mediterranean Shipping Co. in announcing congestion surcharges on cargo heading from Asia to U.S. West Coast ports.
20 Nov 2014
The Port of Oakland is closed today following the death Wednesday night of a longshoreman in Benicia, a breakbulk and bulk port on the San Francisco Bay.
Seattle cranes
19 Nov 2014
The Pacific Maritime Association said work slowdowns continued in the northern ports, while the International Longshore and Warehouse Union was not dispatching sufficient skilled labor to handle cargo volumes in Los Angeles-Long Beach.
White House
19 Nov 2014
Amid pleas of major shippers for a federal mediator, President Obama says he's confident U.S. West Coast longshoremen and waterfront employers can reach a labor contract.

Commentary

Kansas City Southern Railway’s Pat Ottensmeyer is making a pitch that could alleviate the pain some importers are feeling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — advising shippers to divert shipments bound for the U.S. Gulf region away from the congestion-wracked San Pedro ports to Lazaro Cardenas in south-central Mexico.

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.