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.


News & Analysis

29 Jun 2016
Oakland's fiscal 2017 budget emphasizes capital projects.
01 Jan 2015
The Pacific Maritime Association launched a game of brinksmanship on New Year’s Eve, notifying the International Longshore and Warehouse Union at Los Angeles-Long Beach that beginning Friday, employers on night shifts will dispatch only one longshore crew to work each vessel, rather than three as has been the norm.
31 Dec 2014
West Coast ports will enter the new year with the same congestion problems and labor uncertainty that plagued them for much of 2014.
31 Dec 2014
The Harbor Trucking Association of Southern California called upon all supply chain participants to work together to make the newly-opened depot for empty equipment a success, or it will not fulfill its purpose of relieving congestion at marine terminals.
30 Dec 2014
The Port of Long Beach on Monday opened a depot where empty containers can be temporarily stored. The depot will ease space constraints at congested marine terminals while also freeing up chassis for use in the harbor area.
cargo handling at Port of Oakland
30 Dec 2014
The gloves have come off. If there is one issue that the Pacific Maritime Association know will undercut any possible sympathy the International Longshore and Warehouse Union would hope to have from the public, it is how much they make.


The reaction of shippers to West Coast longshore labor disruption is evolving in such a way that West Coast ports have reason for concern.


Don Snyder, Port of Long Beach's Director of Business Development, on the lasting impact of the 2015 labor upset at West Coast ports. Looking to 2016, Snyder says, many processes have been improved and investments made, and productivity gains are being seen already. In this interview, he explains the response to supply chain optimization needs and working with multiple partners to ensure smooth transfers.
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.