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  May 13th, 2024 | Written by

Logistics Planning Information For Key U.S. Seaports

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For America’s seaports, a strong start to the new year on our side of the world is credited to … a new year on the other side.

Let us explain using the Port of Long Beach as an example. Trade moving through the busy Southern California seaport rose in January (a.k.a. the first month of the new year) as retailers stocked up ahead of Lunar New Year, when east Asian factories typically close for up to two weeks.

Read also: Cargo Volumes Handled by U.S. Seaports on the Rise

Dockworkers and terminal operators at Long Beach moved 674,015 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in January 2024, up 17.5% from January 2023. Imports increased 23.5% to 325,339 TEUs and exports were down 18.1% to 86,525 TEUs. Empty containers moved through the port increased 28% to 262,151 TEUs.

“Retailers stocked their warehouses in January ahead of the slower import activity we typically see during Lunar New Year celebrations,” explains Port of Long Beach CEO Mario Cordero. “We are ready to grow our volumes and hope to see continued growth through 2024 as we gradually recapture market share.”

“The waterfront workforce and terminal operators are energizing the economy by keeping the goods moving at the Port of Long Beach,” adds Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bobby Olvera, Jr. “We’re staying the course by attracting business, operating sustainably and developing projects that will ensure our long-term growth.”

The strong start to 2024 marks the fifth consecutive monthly year-over-year increase following 13 months of declines in cargo movement at the Port of Long Beach. And it’s indicative of what’s happening at many other U.S. seaports experiencing increased cargo volumes compared to pre-pandemic levels, particularly containerized goods. 

This surge creates opportunities but also brings challenges like congestion, capacity limitations, and rising costs.


  • Increased Trade: Global trade recovery and e-commerce growth are driving higher cargo volumes.
  • Supply Chain Challenges: Labor shortages, port congestion, and container availability issues continue to disrupt smooth operations.
  • Tech and Infrastructure Upgrades: Many ports are investing in automation, data analytics, and infrastructure improvements to enhance efficiency.
  • Environmental Initiatives: Sustainability becomes a growing focus, with Green Port initiatives gaining traction.


  • Container Terminals: Busy, with potential delays and capacity constraints, especially on the West Coast.
  • Breakbulk and Ro/Ro: Seeing steady growth, particularly for vehicles and project cargo.
  • Cruise Industry: Rebounding in many ports, bringing additional economic activity.
  • Inland Transportation: Trucking facing challenges due to driver shortages and rising fuel costs. Rail networks playing a crucial role in efficient distribution.


  • Continued high cargo volumes expected, requiring further investment in infrastructure and technology.
  • Supply chain disruptions likely to persist, requiring innovative solutions and closer collaboration between stakeholders.
  • Sustainability efforts will continue to be a focus, influencing port operations and cargo handling practices.

What follows is a general overview of specific ports. Keep in mind that individual ports have unique strengths, weaknesses and operational specifics. Always research individual ports based on your specific needs and consult with logistics professionals for detailed planning.


Contact: World Trade Center Institute, 401 E. Pratt St. #1653, Baltimore, MD 21202. (800) 638-7519 –

  • Strengths: Strong rail network, proximity to I-95 and I-70, diverse cargo handling, record-breaking Ro/Ro volumes.
  • Considerations: Limited container terminal capacity (presently; a new container terminal is in the works), potential congestion on I-95 during peak hours.
  • Unique planning tip: Explore multimodal options utilizing both rail and trucking for efficient inland distribution, especially for high-volume shipments.


Contact: North Carolina State Ports Authority, 2202 Burnett Blvd., Wilmington, NC 28401. (910) 763-1621 –

  • Strengths: Multiple port locations offering regional access, growing container volumes, Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) availability.
  • Considerations: Drayage costs may be higher due to inland distances, port infrastructure upgrades ongoing.
  • Unique planning tip: Consider utilizing the Port of Wilmington if targeting the Southeast market, or Port of Morehead City for faster access to central North Carolina.

Contact: Port of Long Beach, 415 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802. (562) 283-7000 –

  • Strengths: Largest container port in North America, advanced technology infrastructure, efficient cargo handling.
  • Considerations: High competition and potential delays, complex customs clearance procedures.
  • Unique planning tip: Utilize online shipment tracking tools and real-time data to anticipate potential delays and adjust logistics accordingly.

Contact: South Carolina Ports Authority, 196 Concord St., Charleston, SC 29401. (843) 958-8298 –

  • Strengths: Efficient container operations, growing cruise industry, strategic location for Southeast distribution.
  • Considerations: Limited availability of empty containers, potential congestion on I-26 during peak season.
  • Unique planning tip: Look into Charleston’s Green Port initiatives for environmentally conscious supply chain solutions.


Contact: Port of Portland, 7200 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR 92718. (800) 547-8411 –

  • Strengths: Focus on forest products and specialty cargo, growing barge traffic, access to Pacific Northwest markets.
  • Considerations: Limited container terminal capacity, smaller port size compared to others.
  • Unique planning tip: Partner with local logistics providers familiar with the port’s specific handling procedures for specialty cargo.

Contact: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: New York Marine Terminals, 90 Columbia St., Brooklyn, NY 11201; New Jersey Marine Terminals, 260 Kellogg St., Port Newark, NJ 07114. (973) 578-2192 –

  • Strengths: Largest East Coast port complex, extensive trade network, diverse cargo capabilities.
  • Considerations: High costs, complex regulations, potential labor disruptions.
  • Unique planning tip: Utilize experienced customs brokers and freight forwarders to navigate the port’s intricate clearance procedures.

Contact: Port of Galveston, 123 Rosenberg Ave., Galveston, TX 77553. (409) 765-9321 –

  • Strengths: Strategic location for Gulf Coast access, growing container volumes, lower costs compared to East Coast ports.
  • Considerations: Weather vulnerability, limited rail network compared to other ports.
  • Unique planning tip: Plan for potential weather disruptions and consider alternative transportation options in case of hurricanes or other severe weather events.

Please remember that these are just general starting points, and the best logistics plan for your specific needs will depend on various factors such as cargo type, origin/destination, budget and desired transit time. Again, conduct further research and consult with logistics professionals for tailored advice.