Some ports excel in imports, some in exports, others in domestic trade and still more in international trade. America’s Top 50 Power Ports are the highest ranked in total trade, however.
Based on their U.S. port ranking by cargo volume in 2018, the fabulous fifty are:
1. South Louisiana, LA
Total tons: 275,512,500
Stretching 54 miles along the Mississippi River, South Louisiana is the largest tonnage port district in the western hemisphere.
2. Houston, TX
Total tons: 268,930,047
Handling about 70 percent of all the container cargo through the Gulf of Mexico coast, the Houston channel serves nearly as many calls as Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York/New Jersey combined.
3. New York/New Jersey
Total tons: 140,281,992
The gateway to one of the most concentrated consumer markets in North America, the Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest on the East Coast.
4. Beaumont, TX
Total tons: 100,244,231
The world-class intermodal transportation facility is served by three class one rail carriers, located within two miles of Interstate 10, and situated on a deep-water channel with a 40-foot draft.
5. Corpus Christi, TX
Total tons: 93,468,323
Positioned on the western Gulf of Mexico with a 36-mile, 47 foot (MLLW) deep channel, the port is a major gateway to international and domestic maritime commerce, with railroad and highway network connectivity via three class one rail carriers and two major interstate highways.
6. New Orleans, LA
Total Tons: 93,332,543
A modern multimodal gateway for global commerce, the port’s competitive edge comes from an ability to deliver seamless, integrated logistics solutions between river, rail and road.
7. Long Beach, CA
Total tons: 86,536,154
The second-busiest container seaport in the U.S. is the premier American gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a trailblazer in innovative goods movement, safety, environmental stewardship and sustainability.
8. Baton Rouge, LA
Total tons: 82,234,811
Strategically located on the Mississippi River, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge is a major driver of the state’s economy, ranking among the U.S. top ports in total tonnage.
9. Hampton Roads, VA
Total tons: 71,774,349
The Port of Virginia’s network of terminals can process more than 4 million containers on an annual basis, serving ultra-large containers vessels arriving from across the Atlantic, inland barge service traveling up the James River as well as rail as the No. 1 in volume on the East Coast.
10. Los Angeles, CA
Total tons: 67,806,137
Billed as “America’s Port” (it’s registered!), the nation’s premier gateway for international commerce is the busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere, handling diverse commodities from avocado to zinc.
11. Mobile, LA
Total tons: 58,635,622
Alabama’s only seaport to ensure economies of scale and competitive rates for mining, manufacturing, agribusiness and retail/distribution shippers, Mobile just watched the ink dry on a pact that will modernize facilities and deepen and widen the shipping channel.
12. Lake Charles, LA
Total tons: 56,908,344
The deepwater seaport on the Calcasieu Ship Channel, north of the U.S. Gulf Coast, opened in 1926 and today is the 12th-busiest port district in the nation, based on tonnage, as ranked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
13. Plaquemines, LA
Total tons: 56,850,137
Located at the mouth of the Mississippi River on the Gulf of Mexico, the Port of Plaquemines is about 20 miles south of New Orleans.
14. Baltimore, MD
Total tons: 44,778,259
The Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore handled a new record of 43.6 million tons of cargo in 2019, including more than 11 million tons of general cargo at the state-owned public terminals for the first time ever. The number of vehicles (857,890) topped all U.S. ports for the ninth straight year.
15. Texas City, TX
Total tons: 42,682,311
The privately-owned port, whose shareholders include Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway, is the 15th largest port in the country and fourth-largest in Texas.
16. Savannah, GA
Total tons: 41,273,947
Savannah joins fellow deepwater port Brunswick and inland terminals in Chatsworth, Bainbridge and Columbus to serve as Georgia’s gateway to the world, especially for raw materials and finished products bound for, well, all over the globe.
17. Port Arthur, TX
Total tons: 39,851,706
The ultimate direct transfer facility for international cargo shipping is positioned on the Gulf of Mexico, where it competitively handles any type of commodity.
18. Cincinnati, OH-Northern Kentucky
Total tons: 38,534,187
Part of the Ohio-Mississippi River Waterway on the banks of the Ohio River, the port is at the center of a large metropolitan area that occupies parts of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
19. Louis, MO/IL
Total tons: 37,426,710
The Port of Metropolitan St. Louis is 70 miles long, situated on both sides of the Mississippi River, and is the 19th largest U.S. port according to the 2018 US Army Corps data. The northernmost ice- and lock-free port on the Mississippi, the port is served by six class one rail carriers, seven Interstates and two international airports.
20. Duluth-Superior, MN/WI
Total tons: 35,102,200
Long known as the Great Lakes “bulk cargo capital,” the port accommodates the maritime transportation needs of a wide range of industries, ranging from agriculture, forestry, mining and manufacturing to construction, power generation and passenger cruising.
21. Huntington – Tristate
Total tons: 34,245,342
Centered on the Ohio River in Huntington, the Port of Huntington Tri-State is the largest inland port in the U.S. and the largest river port in West Virginia.
22. Tampa, FL
Total tons: 31,006,487
Serving container ships, tank ships and cruise lines, Port Tampa Bay is the largest port in Florida and only 25 sea miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
23. Pascagoula, MS
Total tons: 27,358,043
The deepwater port on the southeastern coast of Mississippi consistently ranks in the top tier of ports in the nation related to foreign trade. Primary exports include frozen foods, general cargo, grains, machinery, forest products, fertilizer and petroleum products.
24. Richmond, CA
Total tons: 27,255,061
With its roots in petroleum and liquid bulk cargos, Richmond has expanded its dry bulk, breakbulk and containerized cargo handling capabilities and has increased its automobile processing facilities. Today, Richmond ranks No. 1 in liquid bulk and automobile tonnage among ports on San Francisco Bay.
25. Philadelphia, PA
Total tons: 26,656,373
Located on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, the port’s publicly owned marine terminals are managed by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (a.k.a. PhilaPort, an agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that is responsible for six other ports that combined create one of the largest shipping areas of the country.
26. Seattle, WA
Total tons: 26,046,093
The port keeps Washington state connected through aviation, maritime, logistics, trade and travel services. Its scope includes Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), and in 2014 an alliance was formed between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.
27. Valdez, AK
Total tons: 25,807,750
Valdez is a fishing port, both for commercial and sport fishing, but freight also moves through bound for the interior of Alaska. Valdez is connected to the inland by the Richardson Highway, while also serving as a port of call in the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system.
28. Freeport, TX
Total tons: 25,446,078
Billed as one of the most accessible Texas ports “by land and by sea,” Port Freeport is administered as an independent governmental body authorized by an act of the Texas Legislature in 1925. Located about 60 miles south of Houston, the port is accessible via state highway 36, and highway 288.
29. Port Everglades, FL
Total tons: 25,022,351
Port Everglades is one of Broward County’s leading economic engines, generating nearly $32 billion in economic activity annually while supporting 13,000 local jobs for people who work at the Port and for companies that provide direct services.
30. Charleston, SC
Total tons: 24,822,636
The South Carolina seaport’s facilities span three municipalities—Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant—with five public terminals handling containers, motor vehicles and other rolling stock, non-containerized goods and project cargo. Privately owned and operated facilities at the port handle bulk commodities such as coal, steel and petroleum.
31. Portland, OR
Total tons: 23,228,424
Oregon’s largest port ships more than 11 million tons of cargo a year, including grain, minerals, forest products, and autos. The port partners with the region’s businesses and shippers to develop custom shipping solutions that deliver results.
32. Tacoma, WA
Total tons: 22,849,184
Seattle’s Northwest Seaport Alliance partner jointly manages marine cargo operations to strengthen the Puget Sound gateway. Tacoma is strategically located in the northwest corner of the U.S., where the focus is on efficiency, reliability, and customer service.
33. Pittsburgh, PA
Total tons: 21,567,015
The port spans a 12-county area, encompassing essentially all 200 miles of commercially navigable waterways in southwestern Pennsylvania, including the three major rivers in this region: the Allegheny, the Monongahela, and the Ohio.
34. Oakland, CA
Total tons: 19,373,876
The first major port on the Pacific coast to build terminals for container ships, Oakland went on in 2002 to develop an intermodal container handling system to handle a high volume of cargo.
35. Jacksonville, FL
Total tons: 17,999,036
JAXPORT is a global gateway to the nation’s third-largest state, serving dozens of ocean carriers and offering competitive transit times to 140 ports in more than 70 countries. JAXPORT boasts of 100 trucking firms and 40 daily trains via two class one rail carriers and a regional rail line.
36. Two Harbors, MN
Total tons: 17,208,207
You will mostly see “lakers” (ships that travel within the Great Lakes) in Twin Harbors’ Agate Bay, but more and more there are also ocean-going vessels arriving to load iron ore that was delivered by rail from mines in northern Minnesota.
37. Chicago, IL
Total tons: 16,866,792
Located on the Chicago River on Lake Michigan, the port has a rich history as a center of commercial shipping, with fur traders choosing it as a distribution point for their products. Operated by the Illinois International Port District, Chicago consists of various port facilities, including a terminal with 100 acres of warehouses and facilities.
38. Boston, MA
Total tons: 16,163,552
The major seaport in Boston Harbor and adjacent to the City of Boston is the largest port in Massachusetts as well as one of the principal ports on the East Coast. Most cargo handling facilities are in the Boston neighborhoods of Charlestown, East Boston, South Boston and in the neighboring city of Everett.
39. Paulsboro, NJ
Total tons: 16,121,201
The Paulsboro Marine Terminal, the first major port to be constructed on the Delaware River in more than 50 years, has processed more than 4 million tons of imported steel slabs since it opened in 2017. The second phase of construction is scheduled for completion in 2021. At full build-out, the new facility will feature three berths on the river and a barge berth on Mantua Creek.
40. Kalama, WA
Total tons: 15,796,458
Sitting on the Columbia River in Southwest Washington, immediately off of Interstate 5, the port is just 30 miles northwest of Portland and 120 miles south of Seattle. Kalama’s industrial area includes five miles of riverfront property adjacent to the river’s 43-foot, federally maintained deep-draft navigation channel.
41. Honolulu, HI
Total tons: 15,181,890
The gateway to Hawaii is less than 2 miles from the major steamship lines and carriers. The 3-acre Honolulu Freight Service terminal services all domestic and international inbound cargo, utilizing a 60,000-square-foot facility with 14 dock high doors, ramp access and conveniently located on North Nimitz Highway.
42. Detroit, MI
Total tons: 14,837,762
Located along the west side of the Detroit River, Michigan’s largest seaport consists of multiple marine terminals handling general, liquid, and bulk cargo as well as passengers. The Port of Detroit’s single most valuable commodity is steel, and the largest commodity handled by tonnage is ore. Other important commodities handled at the port include stone, coal, and cement.
43. Longview, WA
Total tons: 13,738,906
Operating since 1921, the port has eight marine terminals and waterfront industrial property spanning 835 acres on the deep-draft Columbia River, 66 miles from the Pacific Ocean in southwest Washington state.
44. Marcus Hook, PA
Total tons: 12,205,883
The Delaware Bay seaport has an anchorage depth of 11 to 12.2 meters, a cargo pier depth of 9.4 to 10 meters, and an oil terminal depth of 11 to 12.2 meters.
45. Indiana Harbor, IN
Total tons: 11,910,541
July 17, 2020, marked the 50th anniversary of the grand opening of the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, the beginning of an organization that connects America’s heartland to the world and provides a stimulus to the state’s economy.
46. Cleveland, OH
Total tons: 11,778,910
One of the largest ports on the Great Lakes, the port is responsible for more than 20,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in annual economic activity. The Port of Cleveland is the only local government agency whose sole mission is to spur job creation and economic vitality in Cuyahoga County.
47. San Juan, PR
Total tons: 11,737,059
The port’s cargo facilities are located on the southern portion of San Juan Bay. At least eight cargo terminals–five in the Puerto Nuevo district and the rest in neighboring Guaynabo—have immediate access to Puerto Rico’s vast expressway system and several major local routes.
48. Memphis, TN
Total tons: 11,055,740
The “International” Port of Memphis the second-largest inland port on the shallow draft portion of the Mississippi River, and the fifth largest inland port in the nation.
49. Anacortes, WA
Total tons: 11,038,886
One of only eight deepwater ports in Washington state, Anacortes can accommodate Panamax vessels with additional dredging. The port—which was ranked 49th among U.S. ports and fifth among Washington ports in total trade by cargo tonnage during 2016—is known for its diverse, highly skilled maritime sector workforce.
50. Vancouver, WA
Total tons: 10,527,470
One of the major ports on the Pacific Coast, Vancouver (of Washington, not British Columbia) boasts as competitive strengths available land, versatile cargo handling capabilities, vast transportation networks, a skilled labor force and an exceptional level of service to its customers and community.