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

17 Oct 2014
The Port of Long Beach is temporarily giving container cargo owners three extra days of free time to keep import containers on the docks.
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.
Ships at port
02 Oct 2014
Low ocean carrier rates are to blame for much of the congestion afflicting U.S. container ports, several ocean carriers and terminal operators said at a Federal MaritimeCommission hearing this week.
30 Sep 2014
Maritime cargo activity at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma supported 48,100 direct, indirect and induced jobs and $4.1 billion in income and re-spending in the region, according to a study released Tuesday by Martin Associates.
30 Sep 2014
A Zim Integrated Shipping Services ship forced to abandon its scheduled call at the Port of Oakland over the weekend is now docked at the Port of Long Beach and unloading.
29 Sep 2014
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Seattle Monday signed an agreement to split the cost of a feasibility study for the deepening of the east and west waterways to 55 feet from the current depths of 34 and 51 feet.

Commentary

Nightmare scenarios are occurring all day, every day at the two biggest U.S. container ports, and the customers receiving some of the worst service are among the nation's largest shippers.

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.