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.


News & Analysis

14 Oct 2016
Hanjin Shipping’s failure put a noticeable dent in US import volumes.
16 Sep 2016
“Cost, consistency and capacity will determine the gateways through which Asian imports enter the US."
15 Sep 2016
Peak season finally arrives in the trans-Pacific.
McAllister tugs in New York
15 Sep 2016
A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday denied a motion by several fuel and towing companies to lift the prohibition on them seizing ships operated by Hanjin Shipping.
15 Sep 2016
Shippers await the berthing of vessels in LA-LB, Savannah, and New York-New Jersey — even though a South Korean court on Friday approved the release of $10 million to work Hanjin ships in the United States.
15 Sep 2016
Billed as the “Mid-American Arc,” the GPA’s rail-focused initiative will allow the port to better serve markets from Atlanta to Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago, and the Ohio Valley.


An early contract extension at West Coast ports would present an opportunity to restore shipper trust and regain cargo they have diverted to the East and Gulf coasts.

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