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

01 Dec 2016
Risks surrounding rapid changes in carrier and terminal industries are a source of confusion for ports and shippers.
15 Mar 2015
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union local in Portland, Oregon, was ordered to pay $60,000 in damage
12 Mar 2015
Terminal operations up and down the West Coast were in start and stop mode this week in attempting to recover from the backlogs that built up during the tense longshore labor standoff that ended with a tentative agreement between labor and management on Feb. 20th.
12 Mar 2015
It’s a known unknown: We will never know what 2014 could have been, volume-wise, for U.S. West Coast ports, the gateway to the trans-Pacific container trade.
11 Mar 2015
Mario Cordero, chairman of the U.S Federal Maritime Commission, told the Harbor Trucking Association in Long Beach and TPM last week there is reason to believe that terminal operators will do their best to improve turn times at U.S. ports this year.
11 Mar 2015
Even before congestion begins to clear West Coast ports, freight shipping activity in the U.S. is rising, a trend that will put more pressure on freight rates and capacity, according to the Cass Freight Index.

Commentary

Contract extension talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association must address productivity issues in a serious way so US West Coast ports get somewhere remotely close to the efficiency at other major ports in the world. 

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