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

23 Apr 2015
Cargo interests had much to complain about at a listening session convened Wednesday by Los Angeles and Long Beach port leaders. They suffered through four punishing months of labor slowdowns at West Coast ports, but their biggest concerns centered on problems that were present even before the coastwide contract negotiations began last May — cost and reliability.
APL at Port of Los Angeles
12 Sep 2014
When APL earlier this week informed its importer customers that the APL Norway was being diverted from Los Angeles “due to congestion at Global Gateway South,” it caused all importers and exporters that use the Los Angeles-Long Beach gateway to cringe. Would other terminals in the nation’s largest port complex plunge into another round of congestion?
11 Sep 2014
Ports on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts and in British Columbia continue to benefit from unsettled longshore labor negotiations on the U.S. West Coast.
08 Sep 2014
A new contract between BNSF and a Tacoma short-line railroad aimed at cutting turn times down for trains leaving the Port of Tacoma could give shippers a much-needed improvement in intermodal service.
04 Sep 2014
Tracy Egoscue, an environmental attorney and former California deputy attorney general, was named to fill a vacant seat on the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners.
Night terminal gate
03 Sep 2014
Truckers in Los Angeles-Long Beach have complained for years that turn times are lousy — oftentimes two hours or longer. Marine terminal operators are adamant that the average turn time is less than one hour. Transportation consultant Val Noronha says both claims are accurate; it’s the measurement that’s flawed.

Commentary

With the expanded Panama Canal set to open in a year and shippers frustrated with West Coast delays, Florida is pitching itself as an international container import gateway. But the Sunshine State faces fierce competition from Southeast rivals.

More Commentary

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.