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

18 Dec 2014
Holiday shoppers in Asia will have to deal with a little less Christmas cheer this year, as trans-Pacific shipments of Christmas trees from the U.S. Pacific Northwest are the latest casualty of West Coast port congestion.
14 May 2014
Two-thirds of shippers who participated in a JOC survey this week plan to divert at least some cargo away from U.S. West Coast ports to avoid disruption that could emerge from contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and West Coast employers.
14 May 2014
Port Metro Vancouver is capitalizing on a lull in cargo activity before the peak-shipping season begins this summer to implement key aspects of the most ambitious effort in North America to improve truck turn times.
09 May 2014
On the eve of U.S. West Coast longshore labor negotiations, a coalition of 67 organizations representing manufacturers, farmers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, transportation and logistics providers is urging negotiators to agree on a new waterfront contract without any work stoppages.
09 May 2014
As West Coast waterfront employers launch contract negotiations on May 12 with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, many beneficial cargo owners are planning to ship their freight through alternative gateways in the event of disruptions or a work stoppage.
08 May 2014
Domestic U.S. waterborne transportation for containerized cargo has failed to find a substantial market, but that has not stopped the federal government from pressing ahead with studies exploring the quixotic idea. A just-released study says a service along the U.S. West Coast is potentially viable but faces multiple hurdles.

Commentary

Kansas City Southern Railway’s Pat Ottensmeyer is making a pitch that could alleviate the pain some importers are feeling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — advising shippers to divert shipments bound for the U.S. Gulf region away from the congestion-wracked San Pedro ports to Lazaro Cardenas in south-central Mexico.

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.