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

Weekly wrap-up for Nov. 22
22 Nov 2014
Another week of the top stories on JOC.com focusing on the crisis-level congestion plaguing U.S. West Coast ports, although one story on Horizon Lines slipped into the Top 10.
28 Apr 2014
A picket line established by independent truck drivers briefly shut down a container terminal at the Port of Long Beach today, but the impact was confined to one facility and was unlikely to result in terminal closures elsewhere in the harbor.
27 Apr 2014
A planned 48-hour protest by truckers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is set for Monday though it’s unclear whether marine operations at the United States’ largest container port complex will be affected.
22 Apr 2014
The Port of Tacoma is working with the two western railroads, its local provider (Tacoma Rail), cargo transloaders, Washington State exporters and trans-Pacific ocean carriers to enhance intermodal rail service from the port.
Port of Oakland. Photo: cdrin / Shutterstock.com
22 Apr 2014
The Port of Oakland has come a long way from last summer, when harbor truckers disrupted the port through sporadic work stoppages protesting new clean-truck rules. But based on recent comments from truckers it still has plenty of work to do to improve turn times in the harbor.
21 Apr 2014
The ports of Seattle and Tacoma offer advantages to shipping lines that many ports would love to have — naturally deep water, more than enough container-handling space and excellent on and near-dock intermodal rail infrastructure. But in order to take full advantage, the ports are faced with a stark reality: they must invest heavily to upgrade facilities that were designed for vessels that are half the size of the ships with capacities of 8,000 to 10,000 20-foot container units that carriers are already beginning to deploy in their Pacific Northwest services.

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.