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

24 Oct 2014
While the Port of Tacoma reported year-over-year growth in container volumes in September, Seattle suffered another month of double-digit volume decline.
13 Oct 2014
Hyundai Merchant Marine said it will sell 49 percent stakes in two U.S. West Coast terminals to U.S. private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg for $140 million.
10 Oct 2014
Two chassis-leasing companies, DCLI and TRAC Intermodal, will add 3,000 chassis to their Southern California fleets in response to a request by the Port of Long Beach that the private sector step up its efforts to help relieve the growing chassis problem in the harbor.
09 Oct 2014
Dockworkers in Los Angeles-Long Beach are making the already terrible congestion problems at marine terminals insufferable by pulling trucks over and requiring inspections that reportedly go far beyond the normal safety procedures.
09 Oct 2014
Dragged-out negotiations for a new West Coast longshore contract are adding to congestion and delays at ports and threatening supply chains for holiday-season goods, the National Retailers Federation warned.
08 Oct 2014
Mike Zampa, a communications specialist for the past 25 years, including eight years in the maritime industry, was named director of communications at the Port of Oakland.

Commentary

The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex finds itself engulfed in a meltdown of historic proportions, and that's no exaggeration. How quickly the ports can recover will determine their viability going forward.

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.