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

Dockworker
27 Aug 2014
The agreement reached late Tuesday pertaining to health care was the latest and clearest indication that the 2014 West Coast longshore labor negotiations are playing out in a way no one expected: They are peaceful.
20 Aug 2014
The Port of Oakland was returning to normalcy Wednesday after four days of on-again, off-again demonstrations by anti-Israel protesters involving the Zim Piraeus container ship.
19 Aug 2014
The ports of Tacoma and Seattle each reported July container volume totals this week, and while Tacoma saw continued growth in cargo, Seattle’s traffic spiraled downward with drastic year-over-year volume drops.
19 Aug 2014
The SSA Marine terminal at the Port of Oakland remained closed Tuesday because longshoremen refused to report to their jobs, even though the anti-Israel demonstrators who had blocked entrance to the facility on Sunday were long gone.
19 Aug 2014
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission is moving forward in a fledgling effort to reduce long truck wait times at some ports in the U.S. by holding a forum in Southern California next month and another in Baltimore in the fall.
Port of Long Beach
19 Aug 2014
Container volumes in Los Angeles-Long Beach were flat in July as uncertainty about the International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract negotiations resulted in cargo diversion to East Coast ports.

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.