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

Portland cranes
17 Apr 2015
The most damaging aspect of the exodus of two major container lines from the Port of Portland, Oregon, last month was the loss of more than 650 trade and transportation jobs in Oregon, the port’s executive director says.
16 Apr 2015
A U.S. senator is asking Congress’s watchdog to study the labor-related disruption at U.S. West Coast ports, the latest sign of Congress getting more involved in curbing marine terminal congestion that threatens the nation’s economic growth.
Port of Tacoma
16 Apr 2015
The Seaport Alliance should begin to take shape later this summer after it goes through the Federal Maritime Commission review process. Kurt Beckett, Port of Seattle deputy CEO, said the ports by early May will complete the draft document that will detail how the Seaport Alliance will function.
Port of Oakland
15 Apr 2015
Containerized imports of full containers through the Port of Oakland posted a 39.4 percent year-over-year increase in March, reversing sharp declines caused by congestion during the first two months of 2015.
07 Apr 2015
Hamburg Süd led the container shipping industry in on-time service in February, putting an end to Maersk Line’s six-month hold on the top spot, according to SeaIntel Maritime Analysis.
07 Apr 2015
East Coast containerized imports in February almost reached parity with West Coast imports, demonstrating the profound shift in trade that has resulted from port congestion and work slowdowns by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union at West Coast ports. The coming months will determine how much of the shift will be permanent.

Commentary

With the expanded Panama Canal set to open in a year and shippers frustrated with West Coast delays, Florida is pitching itself as an international container import gateway. But the Sunshine State faces fierce competition from Southeast rivals.

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.