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

US West Coast ports focus on operational improvements.

News & Analysis

17 Jun 2017
At a time when the Southern California Ports' hold on discretionary cargo is tenuous, the state's all-out commitment to mitigating climate change is taking priority over port competitiveness.
23 Nov 2015
Truckers calling in Los Angeles-Long Beach are experiencing the lowest in-terminal service times since longshore labor issues in the fall of 2014 created the worst port congestion in more than a decade, according to the organization that represents the 13 container terminals in the largest U.S. port complex.
23 Nov 2015
Beneficial cargo owners and truckers continue to challenge fees they incurred for the late pickup or return of containers during the West Coast port congestion problems this past year, but with decidedly mixed results.
20 Nov 2015
The Port of Long Beach is considering a creative approach to reducing the amount of time that containers sit idle at marine terminals, a measure that could reduce congestion at the second largest U.S. port by changing how free storage time is calculated.
19 Nov 2015
The Northwest Seaport Alliance of Seattle and Tacoma recorded modest growth in container volume in October, but it was sufficient to push the ports’ year-to-date performance into positive territory.
17 Nov 2015
In an effort to build upon the momentum of an agreement that was reached earlier this month between three waterfront employers and the West Coast office clerical union, the attorney representing 14 other shipping lines and terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach urged his counterpart to strike similar agreements with the remaining employers.

Commentary

California's all-out commitment to mitigating climate change appears to be taking priority over maintaining the competitiveness of the state’s seaports, particularly the critical Los Angeles-Long Beach gateway. 

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