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

09 Jul 2014
In the article titled “Teamsters initiate labor action at LA-Long Beach in midst of longshore talks,” published on July 6, a quote drawn from a tweet was misattributed to a longshoremen.
Port of Prince Rupert
09 Jul 2014
Canadian National Railway will issue equipment allocations to ocean carrier customers shipping through Port Metro Vancouver and the Port of Prince Rupert as it struggles to cope with what it called an unexpected surge in U.S.-bound cargo linked to the July 1 expiration of the U.S. West Coast longshore contract.
CMA CGM Corte Real
09 Jul 2014
West Coast ports can breathe a sigh of relief after the rejection of the P3 Network by China’s Ministry of Commerce — a single operational entity won’t have the huge leverage they feared in negotiations over port calls and terminal charges.
APL terminal file photo
08 Jul 2014
International Longshore and Warehouse Union longshoremen in Southern California walked off their jobs about 9 a.m. at Evergreen and APL terminals in the Port of Los Angeles today.
Timeout
07 Jul 2014
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and U.S. West Coast waterfront employers have agreed to take a 72-hour break from negotiations to allow the union to attend “an unrelated negotiation” in the Pacific Northwest.
07 Jul 2014
Cargo-handling and gate operations at marine terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach continued without interruption today despite threats by the Teamsters union to initiate an “indefinite strike” against three trucking companies that serve the United States’ largest port complex.

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Commentary

It is well documented that U.S. West Coast ports face a number of competitive challenges.

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.