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

19 May 2017
'Driver-centric' brokerage aims to unlock small-carrier capacity for freight shippers and give truck drivers a new pipeline of freight to tap.
Port of Los Angeles
09 Jul 2015
CaroTrans Thursday announced it would resume its direct, weekly import service between Rotterdam and Antwerp and the Port of Los Angeles, backing reports that U.S. West Coast port congestion is finally easing almost six months after labor disputes there came to a close.
drayage truck at Port of Long Beach
07 Jul 2015
Trucker turn times in Los Angeles-Long Beach are back to where they were in the spring of 2014 before the ports were crippled by labor slowdowns, but industry analyst Val Noronha is giving terminal operators in the largest U.S. port complex a grade of only D-minus.
APL container ship docked at Port of Oakland, June 2015
07 Jul 2015
APL announced Monday that its PA2 service from North Asia will skip calls to the Port of Oakland through the end of July because of the port’s congestion problems.
29 Jun 2015
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said Monday that bills before Congress seeking to avoid lengthy negotiations marked by slowdowns and employer retaliation that recently plagued West Coast ports aren’t the answer.
27 Jun 2015
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union doesn’t buy ocean carriers’ explanation that they stopped providing chassis to truckers and cargo interests in order to save money, said Bobby Olvera, president of ILWU Local 13 in Southern California.

Commentary

Leveraging technology and investment to focus on the niche of serving the needs of fast-moving cargo is a positive direction for the ports to pursue.