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

Port Metro Vancouver
Li & Fung Logistics isn’t waiting for the worst-case scenario. The logistics division of Hong Kong-based sourcing giant Li & Fung — and other cargo owners like it who ship through the U.S. West Coast — will be watching closely over the next four months as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and employers engage in tough negotiations on a new labor contract.

News & Analysis

Port of Seattle image by Don Wilson
18 Apr 2014
The Puget Sound ports of Seattle and Tacoma face battles on multiple fronts.
03 Apr 2014
Container volumes at North American West Coast ports declined in February as factories in Asia closed for the Chinese New Year celebration.
03 Apr 2014
NEWPORT, R.I. — Retailers are stepping up their criticism of management and labor in the upcoming West Coast longshore negotiations, saying they should give shippers the predictability they are looking for by using the time between now and the June 30th contract expiration to get a deal done.
02 Apr 2014
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Long truck lines and excessive delays at marine terminal threaten present and future growth at the Southern California ports, a trucking association official said today at the annual Pulse of the Ports meeting in Long Beach.
01 Apr 2014
Port Metro Vancouver is confident that the revised 14-point action plan that convinced truck drivers in late March to end their four-week strike will establish the framework for a long-term solution to the port’s frustrating drayage problems.
01 Apr 2014
WASHINGTON — A group representing agricultural shippers and forwarders has warned members to prepare for labor disruptions and slowdowns at U.S West Coast ports starting in June and to make contingency plans

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Commentary

It is no overstatement to say that the economic wellbeing of Long Beach, Southern California and our state is dramatically impacted by the volume of international trade flowing through the Port of Long Beach.

Video

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.
Seattle Seaport chief Linda Styrk says the port’s moves to clean up harbor trucking are moving at a good pace, as the port tries to win back container business Seattle says has gone to Canada.