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

22 Jul 2014
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union today completed its two-day caucus in San Francisco, and the union will resume contract negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Association on Wednesday.
26 Oct 2013
The executive director of the Port of Oakland issued an invitation, and a warning, to dissident harbor truckers to join other stakeholders in working toward a solution to labor issues and congestion problems that have plagued the Northern California gateway for four months.
MSC Beatrice at the Port of Long Beach
25 Oct 2013
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together this year will spend more than $1 billion for deeper channels, taller cranes, terminal automation, intermodal connectors and environmental enhancements, and most of the record spend is being driven by bigger ships.
Elliott Bay terminals, Port of Seattle. Photo: Don Wilson.
24 Oct 2013
Terminal operators at the Port of Seattle filed a request with the Federal Maritime Commission to form a discussion agreement that would allow the terminals to jointly discuss operations, facilities, services and other matters in an effort to increase efficiency at the port.
MSC Fabiola at the Port of Long Beach, Calif.
24 Oct 2013
West Coast ports today are capable of handling the water and landside demands that the current generation of big ships are making on their infrastructure, but they must spend billions of additional dollars to accommodate even bigger container ships that will call there in the next few years.
Port of Oakland
24 Oct 2013
The Port of Oakland is one of the busiest reefer ports in the country. That it’s close to California’s Central Valley growing area and the last port of call for a number of carriers before vessels head back to Asia are two of the main reasons for its reefer growth.

Commentary

Shippers are breathing a sigh of relief because there haven’t been any major disruptions at U.S. West Coast ports, nearly a month after a brief extension of the contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association expired. Both sides seem to understand that a shutdown of any kind wouldn’t be in their best interest.

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.