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.
Container ship entering the Port of Savannah.
20 Feb 2014
The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex got off to a “flat” start in 2014, in contrast with the “strong” numbers posted by the ports of Savannah and Charleston in January.
13 Feb 2014
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has nominated Boyden Global Executive Search to find candidates for the position of executive director of the nation’s number two container port.
Hanjin vessel at the Port of Portland, Ore.
11 Feb 2014
The Port of Portland Commission on Feb. 12 will be asked to approve an agenda item that would result in a payment of up to $4 million to keep Hanjin Shipping Co., Hapag-Lloyd and other carriers calling at the port in 2014.
Chassis
10 Feb 2014
A chassis-shortage contagion that has plagued the three largest U.S. ports since late last year is a stark reminder to cargo interests, trucking companies and waterfront labor that the cozy world of ocean carrier-owned chassis has come to an end.
Ship near Oakland
04 Feb 2014
Container volumes moving through West Coast ports in 2013 increased 2 percent compared to 2012. Loaded import containers also increased 2 percent, as did loaded export containers, according to numbers posted on the website of the Pacific Maritime Association.

Commentary

The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex finds itself engulfed in a meltdown of historic proportions, and that's no exaggeration. How quickly the ports can recover will determine their viability going forward.

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.