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

19 Jun 2016
“Negotiations are more visible now. There is pressure on both sides, and pressure does a lot to get things done,” said Pacific Maritime Association President Jim McKenna.
20 Apr 2016
The much-anticipated launch of a weekly service with six mega-ships, each with a capacity of almost 18,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, to Long Beach and Oakland is being delayed, having fallen victim to the extremely low freight rates freight rates in the trans-Pacific trade.
19 Apr 2016
The Northwest Seaport Alliance of Seattle and Tacoma in March registered its third consecutive month of increased containerized exports, although imports declined 36.4 percent compared to an especially busy March 2015, according to statistics published by the alliance on Monday.
18 Apr 2016
Congressional representatives from western states and U.S. agricultural interests are urging the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association to launch early talks to extend their current contract beyond the Jul. 1, 2019, expiration date.
02 Apr 2016
U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports have been winning the market share battle in overall U.S. containerized ocean trade since 2008, and in 2015 they overcame West Coast ports in containerized imports, too.
01 Apr 2016
U.S. West Coast ports in February handled 33.7 percent more laden containers than they did last February, demonstrating a solid recovery from the dark period in early 2015 when labor problems created the worst port congestion in more than a decade.

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.

More Commentary

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.