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

With the 2008-09 economic recession and the labor problems of 2014-15 behind them, West Coast ports see 2016 as the year they will return to their normal annual growth trend of about 5 percent.

News & Analysis

01 Dec 2016
Risks surrounding rapid changes in carrier and terminal industries are a source of confusion for ports and shippers.
01 May 2015
Delays in processing high volumes of containers at West Coast warehouses and DCs point to the need for better packing and loading of containers in Asia, a trucking executive says.
30 Apr 2015
Dayside operations at the Port of Oakland will be suspended Friday as longshoremen hold their monthly stop-work meeting to discuss union matters.
28 Apr 2015
Picketing by truck drivers seeking union status continued Tuesday at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, indicating that the campaign by the Teamsters union to organize harbor truckers throughout the harbor is not going away anytime soon.
28 Apr 2015
The arbitrator who became a key sticking point in labor negotiations on the U.S. West Coast earlier this year has filed suit against shipping companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
27 Apr 2015
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 in the Bay area will use its monthly stop-work meeting on Friday to idle the ports of Oakland and San Francisco to protest recent police killings of African-Americans.

Commentary

Contract extension talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association must address productivity issues in a serious way so US West Coast ports get somewhere remotely close to the efficiency at other major ports in the world. 

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