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

With the 2008-09 economic recession and the labor problems of 2014-15 behind them, West Coast ports see 2016 as the year they will return to their normal annual growth trend of about 5 percent.

News & Analysis

Port of Long Beach
14 May 2016
Decisions by carrier alliances in Southern California shape throughput patterns.
15 Mar 2016
With memories of last year’s West Coast port disruptions still fresh in their minds, a coalition representing 113 local, state and federal trade associations of beneficial cargo owners on Tuesday urged the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association to begin early discussions on a contract extension.
Benjamin Franklin, CMA CGM container ship, at Port of Oakland
06 Mar 2016
With U.S. West Coast ports facing increasing productivity challenges as more mega-ships call their docks, it’s abundantly clear that labor stability is essential if the ports want to keep, and grow, their share of U.S. imports.
03 Mar 2016
Thursday’s announcement by CMA CGM that beginning in May the carrier’s Pearl River Express service will operate each week with mega-ships carrying up to 18,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units sent West Coast ports into a frenzy of preparatory efforts.
03 Mar 2016
CMA CGM plans to upgrade a trans-Pacific service to the West Coast by deploying six ships with capacities of 18,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, starting late May, a bet that container terminals can handle the largest mega-ships to call the U.S. and that volume will steadily grow.
01 Mar 2016
Agricultural exporters are educating longshore workers and terminals operators at West Coast ports on the extent their showdown caused in 2015 and early 2016, a shipper group head said Tuesday here at JOC’s 16th annual TPM Conference.

Commentary

The reaction of shippers to West Coast longshore labor disruption is evolving in such a way that West Coast ports have reason for concern.

Video

Don Snyder, Port of Long Beach's Director of Business Development, on the lasting impact of the 2015 labor upset at West Coast ports. Looking to 2016, Snyder says, many processes have been improved and investments made, and productivity gains are being seen already. In this interview, he explains the response to supply chain optimization needs and working with multiple partners to ensure smooth transfers.
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.