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

20 Aug 2014
Port Metro Vancouver is receiving a modest windfall in container volume thanks to the uncertainties surrounding longshore contract negotiations on the U.S. West Coast, but it might have profited even more if its terminals had more capacity to handle diverted cargo. Projects are planned to expand its capacity substantially over the next 10 years.
Portland's Terminal 6
08 Aug 2014
The operator of Portland’s only container terminal charged this week that crane productivity hit a new low of 7.5 moves per hour because International Longshore and Warehouse Union members are stepping up their hard-timing tactics now that there is no longshore contract in effect.
08 Aug 2014
Despite pleas for relief, the United Grain Corp.
Cranes at the Port of Stockton
08 Aug 2014
A weekly container-on-barge service between the California ports of Stockton and Oakland will end Sept. 1, dealing a blow the creation of a U.S. marine highway network by ending one of the three inland waterway container services.
07 Aug 2014
TSI Terminal Systems, the largest operator of container terminals at Port Metro Vancouver, says it will continue to accept U.S.-bound rail cargo at the Canadian port despite another terminal operator’s announcement that it will turn down U.S.-inbound rail shipments.
06 Aug 2014
Starting Aug. 8, DP World Vancouver will stop accepting U.S.-bound containers intended for direct transfer to rail, citing a lack of railcars to handle the surge of cargo headed across the border.

Commentary

During what some are calling planned protracted ILWU negotiations, shippers who fear disruption on the West Coast are making U.S. East Coast ports a priority, fearing disruptions on the West Coast. What are the short- and long-term effects of the switch?

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.