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.
container stacks in Long Beach
22 May 2015
Now that the West Coast’s labor problems are behind them, longshoremen and employers must focus on the real chokepoint in marine terminal operations — the container yard, the president of the largest International Longshore and Warehouse Union local said Thursday.
20 May 2015
With no clear path to prevent a recurrence of the crippling, nearly yearlong disruption visited upon West Coast ports and, as of this writing, no final ratification of a new contract by West Coast dockworkers, shippers are exercising their right of free choice and walking away.
15 May 2015
East Coast and West Coast ports snatched a sizable share of the U.S.containerized import market from their West Coast counterparts in the first fourth months of the year, as shippers shifted cargo away from the congested gateways.
15 May 2015
The leader of the management group that negotiates with West Coast longshoremen said this week that the negotiating process that yielded months of disruption through February is “not sustainable.”
13 May 2015
Convinced that Oakland will return to normal operations by the end of May, port executives are looking ahead to the beginning of peak-shipping season this summer, and they will soon roll out a series of operational improvements to prepare for the next surge in cargo.

Commentary

Terminal consolidation on the US West Coast is happening even if it is not sending the tremors that the wave of carrier mergers and acquisitions has.