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Twenty twenty-one was a difficult year in global logistics due to ongoing volatility. We worked alongside customers navigating the Suez Canal block, hurricanes and cyclones, port and terminal closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks, customs and trade changes, labor shortages and more.

I’ve been in the industry since 1997 and I have never seen this level of continual disruption across the entire supply chain for this length of time. However, with this year’s volatility, I was also given a front-row seat to a new level of hyper collaboration–including individuals going out of their way to help each other, more strategy sessions between shippers and forwarders, and continually leaning into historical data and current market insights find smarter solutions.

As we begin another potentially volatile year, I wanted to provide key strategies for global shippers to consider.


At year-end, we typically see a jump in demand as shippers meet quarter-end quotas and prepare for the upcoming Lunar New Year, during which many factories in China shut down. However, in early 2022, shippers are also juggling potential delays from the Winter Olympics in Beijing throughout February. All of this is amid a strained supply chain market, which will take time to ease.

As you prepare for the year ahead, consider what different modes, trade lanes or inland transportation strategies you can implement in your supply chain. For example, while it may not be feasible to transport 100% of your freight via air, air freight continues to be the fastest way to replenish inventory, so prioritizing specific freight can help keep cargo moving. In fact, C.H. Robinson is running on average 15-17 air charters a week globally for customers looking to avoid the congested ocean ports, and we don’t expect that number to decrease in the near future.

Additionally, as demand and rates will likely continue to stay elevated, less-than-container load (LCL) shipping is a strategy to consider. Typically, space for LCL shipments is easier to find especially in a constrained capacity market, since you are only looking for some container space versus an entire empty container. We also continue to see large cost savings with expedited LCL services compared to today’s airfreight environment.

Keep in mind, LCL shipments are not going to bypass congestion at the ports, so inland strategies need to be considered. Currently, many ocean carriers are looking to move more interior point intermodal cargo versus focusing on port-to-port. We were able to help increase the flow of cargo inland for our customers by sending more 53-foot containers so cargo on the smaller 40-foot ocean containers can be efficiently consolidated in the larger ones and loaded onto trucks or trains to be taken to inland destinations more quickly. Overall, this increased our container capacity by 25% in Southern California.

Indeed, looking at only one portion of the supply chain or one mode can only get you so far. It’s important to consider all areas to keep your cargo moving.


Although 2021 rendered a lot of unique situations—and 2022 may do the same—historical data can still help us find solutions. Finding common trends and themes in your cyclical data can give you an information advantage to make smarter decisions for your supply chain.

Additionally, the right technology tools can give you the visibility and predictability you need to adjust. For example, with the ongoing port congestion and delays, C.H. Robinson enhanced the vessel routing and tracking features within our transportation management system, Navisphere, to increase the efficiency and accuracy of port ETAs and automatically send updates if changes were discovered. This is important because ocean shipping is only one piece of the equation. Having visibility to changes in real-time gives our team and customers a chance to react and adjust other tactics down the road.


It’s unclear whether we’ll see a reinstatement of certain Section 301 China duty exclusions. At press time, the House and Senate had yet to reach consensus on the legislative proposals. If passed, it would be effective through the end of this year.

While congestion and shortages continue across transportation modes, one area where you may find opportunities for savings is in your global trade strategy. Since each country’s trade policies are unique and can change, it’s important to have regular meetings with your trade advisor to break through the complexity of your total landed costs, including understanding your costs to import, identifying duty recovery possibilities and reducing your duty exposure via trade agreements.

For example, our team has helped shippers identify thousands to millions of dollars in tariff refunds alone. If you import into the U.S., you can easily check for potential savings and refunds with our online Tariff Search Tool——and, if you’re sourcing from other countries, our team can create a customized sourcing report sharing potential cost savings or avoidance opportunities.


Forecasting remains essential. For this new year, we strongly encourage forecasting six to eight weeks minimum as a best practice. Considerations for staying consistent include:


-Variability in SKUs/parts

-Smoothing volumes week-to-week

It’s important to be flexible in all facets of a shipment life cycle including:






-Port congestion continues to strand vessels and equipment. In Los Angeles/Long Beach (LALB) there are more than 90 vessels with an average 18-30-day dwell. Seattle and Tacoma are experiencing an average of 12 days to berth, while Savannah still has more than 20 vessels waiting at anchor.

-South East Asia transshipment hub ports are also impacted, causing heavy delays on non-direct services via Asia.

-Overall capacity is affected by ongoing port congestion in many trade lanes. Vessels are oftentimes delayed back to their origin, missing scheduled port calls to unload empty equipment, and pick up new laden exports to the United States.

-Schedule reliability and operational constraints are forecasted to continue.


-The supply chain in Oceania continues to be negatively impacted by the global supply chain disruption. Terminal congestion and suspension of pro forma berthing windows are having an impact on shipping schedules.

-Our teams are exploring diverse options in moving longstanding containers to help customers mitigate significant delays.

-The impact of port delays around the world is likely to keep freight costs high on all outbound trades.


While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the above options provide shippers with strategies to help mitigate delays and identify potential savings as we begin another potentially unpredictable year.

Shippers have had to become increasingly nimble and informed over the past year, and now in 2022, it’s critical to remain agile, be open to alternative solutions and stay informed on the latest market insights. 


Mike Short is president of global forwarding at C.H. Robinson. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based company solves logistics problems for companies across the globe and across industries, from the simple to the most complex. With nearly $20 billion in freight under management and 18 million shipments annually, C.H. Robinson is one of the world’s largest logistics platforms. Their global suite of services accelerates trade to seamlessly deliver the products and goods that drive the world’s economy. With the combination of our multimodal transportation management system and expertise, they parlay an information advantage to deliver smarter solutions for more than 119,000 customers and 78,000 contract carriers. Learn more at 



Every day seems to bring about more bad news at our nation’s ports. In September, the government reported that auto sales fell because of chip shortages that left car dealers with few vehicles to sell. 

Now, more than ever, how a port communicates with the public and the businesses that rely on it is crucial, especially into the holiday shopping season. That port communication goes beyond just a well-designed website to include apps, social media, email alerts and newsletters all working together to communicate with one voice.

So, how should ports begin to think about their brand and their messaging to the public? 

As an agency specializing in branding and user experience (UX), we learned much through several key projects with the Port of Long Beach (POLB). The challenge was identifying and enabling key user tasks for each of the Southern California port’s audience segments. We designed a role-based dashboard that delivered an effective and streamlined user experience. Meanwhile, an improved content structure and organization made the port’s thousands of information resources easier for users to find and access.

What follows are tips for ports to improve the user experience of their websites and how best to work with an agency to achieve that.

Tip #1 – The Bar is Low, Which Creates Opportunity

Most port websites are average at best in terms of design, UX and content. The bar is very low. That creates a distinct opportunity for those ports that want to establish digital leadership. Thinking in terms of their “brand” presents numerous challenges for ports for many reasons, not least of which is the number of stakeholders involved. While working with POLB, we had a team of approximately 50 core stakeholders that were involved in most of the important reviews and decisions. Additionally, we worked with teams representing all of the port’s different internal groups: marketing, community relations, environment, security, IT, etc. 

Managing, coordinating and communicating with a large, diverse group of stakeholders and constituents is both art and science. Any port should make sure their agency partner has experience with this kind of “crowd control.” Because if not, it can quickly derail a project and add time and cost. A certain amount of political savvy also comes in handy as most port-related projects require some degree of coordination with the harbor commission and local government agencies. 

Tip #2 – Ports are More Democratic than Private Companies, That’s a Good Thing

Ports and all of our public-facing clients tend to be far more democratic than our private sector clients. That means they’re open to trying new things as long as there is consensus, rather than decisions being driven by one owner or a small team of partners, who can easily fall into group-think.

Of course, the democratic approach requires a little more time but we feel like we get better input and results working this way. This approach does, however, require some additional time in the schedule but delivers the advantage of creating a deep and comprehensive understanding of the input we receive from employees, partners and stakeholders. 

Tip #3 – Role-Based Resources

Most ports and their websites are accessed by the same types of users: truckers, port/dock workers, cargo owners, shippers, etc. Developing role-based entry points (i.e. “Click here for Trucker Resources”) will help users connect with the right content quickly. While we see that some ports make efforts to include these types of customer-oriented pages, they are often light on content and functionality that actually enhances the customer experience. It’s also crucial these pages are mobile-friendly since most port workers are accessing the website from a phone or tablet while in or around the port facility. 

Most port websites have hundreds, if not thousands of documents, forms and permits. When these informational resources are difficult to find, it will generate a high volume of unnecessary calls to the port’s call center. Making sure these basic items are easy to find and easy to access will go a long way in eliminating unnecessary customer frustration and calls that could have otherwise been avoided with a better customer experience online. 

This trend in the digital world—the idea of customer self-service—is critical in delivering the right experience online. So, make sure that all of these content elements are well-organized and easily accessible to customers of all types. Not only will this deliver a better experience for those customers, it will also create operational efficiency for ports that are always looking to do more with less. 

Tip #4 – Harbor Commission and Port Politics 

Let’s face it: Ports are political entities, so when you bring in creative partners, it’s vital to choose one that has experience working directly with port commissioners and who understand the nature of the port approval process. Our work with the POLB required frequent meetings with the harbor commissioners to keep them abreast of project decisions and developments. We also coordinated our efforts with the City of Long Beach mayor’s office and the various municipal organizations that fall within the city’s domain. 

That also means making key presentations in forums like public access TV and radio to discuss the strategy with the public. Knowing that this will be a part of the project and approval process allows us to plan ahead and tailor our approach to the unique needs of whatever harbor commission and/or port we are working with.

Tip #5 – Don’t Forget the Port is a Place 

Most ports are large, sprawling areas that encompass a vast amount of physical space. Given this fact, it’s somewhat ironic that many port websites lack an effective port map. For the POLB, we looked at a wide range of map styles and map data sources to identify the right blend of design and information. 

Ultimately, we ended up creating a semi-customized approach (as opposed to simply using Google Maps or MapQuestion right out of the box) so the map could be tailored to the specific needs of POLB customers. 

Tip #6 – Think Long and Hard About Content Volume and Content Migration

Most port websites contain a significant volume of content and have hundreds if not thousands of pages. One of the most critical aspects of any port website redesign is the content migration process. Because this process involves many different groups within the port deciding what content to migrate to the new site vs. content to retire or replace, it can take a significant chunk of time. 

Starting this process earlier in the project lifecycle is critical. In fact, getting the migration rolling at the beginning of the project makes the most sense. Most of our private sector clients don’t have nearly as much content nor does the content review for those private-sector clients generally involve as many stakeholders or checkpoints. With ports, there are communication guidelines, content accessibility/usability standards, regulatory reviews, legal reviews and stakeholder reviews. So, it’s best to get the migration going as soon as possible to ensure that it doesn’t hold up the rest of the design and development activities.

No one knows what the future holds for our logistical supply chain, but ports can ease the stress on everyone who interacts with the port by taking the time to think creatively and strategically about the experience their customers will have online. Think about it as more than just a website: It is a customer web portal. If those customers are coming to your site for information and leaving more stressed and no less informed, then your site is an epic fail. And that’s a fail you can’t afford as the economy continues to rebound.


Jason Widmann is director of Strategy, Creative and UX at Stellar Agency, a digital design shop based in El Segundo, California, that focuses on the design and development of digital products, services and platforms.



Ports throughout the U.S. have extremely critical infrastructure needs, and port officials in numerous states are readying projects for launch. America’s ports are in desperate need of modernization, expansion, upgrades and repairs if they are to remain viable. Because of the economic contributions that ports provide to the U.S. economy, officials can no longer ignore or defer these essential projects.

If, or when, Congress passes the infrastructure bill, billions in federal funding will be available, but even that amount of new revenue will likely not cover costs for the most critical needs. Most states have allocated large amounts of funding, and public-private partnerships are being considered for some port initiatives. 

Regardless of the funding sources, it is evident that port modernization, which is long overdue, is finally beginning rather aggressively in America.


Every Texas port must undergo critical upgrading and modernization. Approximately $3.6 billion will be required for the state to cover the most immediate needs at its ports. A 2022-2023 Texas Port Mission Plan outlines numerous high-value projects that are priorities.

The Port of Corpus Christi Authority is seeking $155.5 million for three liquid bulk dock projects at the Avery Point Terminal. The docks, with an average age of 56, are suffering from severe degradation of key components and cannot adequately accommodate large Suezmax vessels arriving at the same time.

The Port of Beaumont is planning a $61.6 million dock facility that will be capable of loading and unloading supersized vessels. The project will feature a pedestrian walkway, access roads and pipeline connectivity.

The Port of Galveston needs to spend $60.7 million to repair damaged and decaying infrastructure that is unusable. The scope of this project will include dredging, constructing two fill-retaining structures, improving storm sewers, installing flexible pavement and replacing a deteriorated bulkhead.


The Port of Oakland’s updated five-year capital improvement plan (CIP) outlines projects estimated at $543.7 million. Approximately $92.2 million is allocated for airfield projects that the port maintains. Critical security upgrades are estimated at about $57.8 million and will include work on access control gates, baggage claim exits and installation of an integrated landside security camera system

Approximately $27.2 million is needed for marine terminal improvements and crane upgrades. This effort will include $10.2 million for wharf upgrades that are now required for ultra-large container vessels and $8.5 million for reconstruction of berths at the port. Other projects considered high priorities include a channel deepening project, substation replacements and the installation of electric truck charging stations.

Down south, the Port of Long Beach approved a Fiscal Year 2022 budget that includes $622.4 million for the Long Beach Harbor, with half of that amount dedicated to capital improvement projects. A project to construct a second fire station will support the port’s fireboat vessels and its landside fire assets. It carries a projected cost of $35.6 million. An additional $38.4 million will be spent on improvements to wharfs and another $870 million is earmarked for the expansion of a rail yard. 

In 2022, construction will begin on a track realignment project that carries a cost estimate of approximately $40 million.


The Port Authority of Allegheny County introduced a 2022 operating and capital budget that details $53.4 million in projects. Anticipated initiatives include rail and bus facility improvements and the installation of electric charging infrastructure. Other port divisions will receive $1.7 million for systemwide upgrades of security and fire alarm systems. The Port Authority also approved its first range transportation plan, NEXTransit, that outlines 18 planned projects that cumulatively carry a $3.7 billion price tag.

The Port Authority of Pittsburgh plans to begin work in 2022 on a new two-level deck that will increase the available parking by 360 spaces. The authority has received an $11.5 million federal grant for the project. The construction project will be comprehensive as it will require moving the lot’s main entrance to the north, widening Route 19 to add turning lanes, and construction of retaining walls, drainage improvements and new paving work.

Scheduled to be completed in May 2022, a $42 million, 201,621-square-foot distribution center is a critical step in the development of the Port of Philadelphia’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal, the region’s main container terminal. PhilaPort Executive Director and CEO Jeff Theobald boasts that the food-grade warehouse, which is one mile from the marine terminal, will help attract new shippers and ocean lines and “generate hundreds of good, family-sustaining jobs.”

These are just a few examples of upcoming contracting opportunities at ports throughout the country. Major ports in America are all in dire need of attention, and officials in every state where ports are located are well aware of the economic engines of ports. Funding will be found, and ports will be modernized in the very near future. Private sector firms interested in partnering to keep America’s ports operating at peak capacity should be getting positioned now to compete for these very large partnering opportunities.


Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., an Austin, Texas-based business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the country. Inside the Infrastructure Revolution: A Roadmap for Building America, is her recently released handbook for contractors, investors and the public-at-large seeking to explore how public-private partnerships or joint ventures can help finance their infrastructure projects.

south ports detention reshoring


Port managers have tried, mightily, to cope with the pandemic’s shockwaves. They have been simultaneously caught up in an avalanche of challenges: trade wars, the pandemic, port congestion and labor and shipping container shortages. Providing as they do the key infrastructure to international trade and the global economy, shipping and ports are estimated to handle more than 80% of global goods trade by volume and over 70% by value. 

International maritime trade volumes were estimated to have fallen by 4.1% in 2020, but all of the expert projections suggest that they’ll not recover at any time before the end of this year. During the pandemic, ports have had to adjust to the reality of lower volumes, worker shortages, the implementation of occupational health and safety measures for dockers and shore personnel, and the adoption of teleworking and remote operations for office workers.

The shock of the COVID-19 pandemic has left no port unaffected while exacerbating certain existing challenges. Ports have been heavily impacted by developments in the shipping sector, where some shipping lines have gone into “survival mode,” affecting container and cargo markets, with knock-on effects that may be felt for years to come. The volatility may push some ports to reassess their business models.

Although the pandemic has strengthened the case for further investment in digitalization and innovation, ports are under intense pressure to reduce costs and be more attractive to the supply chains that use their infrastructure. For example, a survey commissioned by the International Association of Ports and Harbors found that 69% of surveyed ports indicated that the majority of their investment plans had been delayed or amended.

Port officials across the country are not wallowing in the gloom and doom. They don’t have time to. No, they are looking ahead to a 2022 filled with strategies to cure (or at least address) what ails them . . . and lies ahead.

Wanted: Congestion Relief 

At Morgan Stanley’s ninth annual Laguna Conference, a virtual gathering in mid-September of transportation and logistics industry leaders, Expeditors International of Washington’s management was quoted stating that they had never before seen capacity “so scarce in both air and ocean at the same time.”

Looking to the future, Expeditors expects the environment to “remain unsettled as long as constrained capacity and other disruptions, such as port congestion, the uneven lifting of pandemic-restrictions and rising fuel costs continue to impact the movement of freight.” 

A month after that conference, a backlog of ships remained idle off the Southern California coast waiting for their turn to dock, a visual that beachgoers had taken in for the past several months before. And federal regulators at press time were investigating whether the cause of a massive, beach-clearing oil slick was caused by a container ship anchor ripping into a pipeline. 

On Oct. 12, 58 container ships were at anchor or adrift off the shoreline, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. The following day, President Joe Biden announced a deal to keep the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles open 24/7 to alleviate the severe bottlenecks. 

Providing more time for trucks to pick up and return shipping containers to improve freight movement and reduce delays through the port complex is the main strategy of the Biden plan, although exact details were still being worked out at press time. As Biden and Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka both mentioned, systemic change of such magnitude will necessitate many supply chain stakeholders to work in tandem.

“The significance of today’s announcement is the commitment from industry leaders responsible for moving goods on behalf of American consumers and businesses to open up the capacity needed to deliver,” wrote Seroka in an email, as reported by the online news site Long Beach Post. “It’s a call to action for others to follow.”

That call is certainly not being ignored by Seroka’s partner in maritime, Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero, who wrote in a statement of his own, “Before this unprecedented cargo surge began, we believed 24/7 operations were the future. After all, consumers can shop online at any time, whether it’s at 4 p.m. or 4 a.m., and 24/7 is already the standard at our partner ports in Asia. The supply chain truly never stops now.”

Indeed, a month before Biden blew into town, Total Terminals International container terminal on Pier T in Long Beach launched a pilot program that makes it easier for trucks to access the facility during the overnight hours.

“Our waterfront workforce is moving cargo as quickly as possible as we continue to collaborate with stakeholders from throughout the goods movement industry to develop solutions for our capacity challenges,” says Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal. “This cargo surge is anticipated to last well into 2022, so we need to start thinking of new ways to meet the expected growth in goods movement and rising consumer demand.”

Labor Pain Relief, Too, Please

An insatiable demand for new products is part of the blame for port congestion, which is complicated by “the overarching challenge on the labor front,” J.B. Hunt officials reported during the Laguna Conference. “There are times when certain ports or terminals close for periods of time, creating significant whipsaws in the supply chain. The sooner that cargo can get into warehouses or on the shelf, the sooner capacity is freed up, and that is a major component of what is going on in the system.”

Officials from competitor Werner Enterprises echoed that “on the supply side, the driver issue is expected to remain a problem for a while (potentially exacerbated by vaccine mandates–management estimates less than half of the broader driver population is vaccinated) and the equipment problem looks to actually be getting worse.” 

However, there is some silver lining to all the gloom and doom. An especially strong holiday shopping season to end topsy-turvy 2021 may lessen the sting of expected underperformance into at least early 2022, the Werner team reported. 

Union Pacific officials, who are also dealing with slow unloading of containers due to port and driver labor issues, noted that “while there are structural issues in that system, there is also capacity to staff up and get trucks in place. The West Coast ports are also looking to put things into place (automation, union deals, etc.) to get the network moving smoother.”

Investment in new technology seems to be the answer to everything along the supply chain these days, and the port’s portion is no exception. San Francisco tech company Vector claims its electronic bill of lading solution can get drivers in and out of facilities more quickly, to the tune of 43 minutes of drive time. 

How huge is that? Mega-huge. According to David Correll, co-director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Freight Lab, if drivers get just 12 minutes back toward driving, the “truck driver issue” could be solved.

Rebuild, Remodel, Rehabilitate, Rebound 

Biden pivoted during his 24/7 announcement to promote his landmark infrastructure bill, which includes $17 billion for port infrastructure, or the “biggest investment in our ports in our history.”

However, with Republicans balking at the bill’s $4.5 trillion cost (at this writing) and infighting among Democrats over whether to trim or not to trim the price tag to make it more palatable, the legislation remains tied up in Congress (ditto).

It’s a shame, to hear Seroka tell it. He claims West Coast ports have experienced more than a decade of underinvestment by the federal government and that had better change to address the influx/lack of movement of cargo. 

Of course, ports around the country are not waiting on the government to make major infrastructure improvements. For a deeper dive on many of these, see the story elsewhere in this issue by Mary Scott Nabers, president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc. But for improvements with an eye toward sustainability, we look to the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA), whose board of directors recently approved the creation of a funding mechanism for six new projects that will reduce current air emissions and improve rail access for in-state businesses. 

A new transloading/cross-dock facility adjacent to the Union Pacific Intermodal Railyard will offer international and domestic cargo stakeholders a cost-effective and efficient inland alternative option by leveraging existing infrastructure and Union Pacific’s services and proximity to the rail ramp in Salt Lake City, according to the UIPA. An investment-grade business case analysis commissioned by the UIPA identified at minimum the three California port gateways—Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland—for the transloading facility to compete with for international cargo volumes.

The transload facility will be constructed with eco-friendly building materials and include sustainable construction technology, increased water and energy efficiency, reduced waste and emissions and improved indoor environmental quality, according to the UIPA.

The port authority is also seeking to acquire an easement across a privately-owned landfill to open up rail access north of Interstate 80, an existing rail spur and test track that connects to a short line, and the blessing of Salt Lake County officials to provide additional freight connectivity by building out 7200 West from State Route 201 to 700 North.

The UIPA is working with partners to develop a renewable fueling station for private and/or public use that will serve hydrogen, electric and liquid and compressed natural gas vehicles, and with the Department of Homeland Security to reassign agents to Utah for a customs bonded facility with rail access, loading docks for bonded warehousing and storage capacity.

“All these projects are designed to address gaps currently in Utah’s logistic system, which is the primary role of the port authority,” said Jack Hedge, UIPA executive director. “Providing this underlying infrastructure supports the entire ecosystem of the jurisdictional area–from a logistics standpoint, to the environment, to the community–everyone benefits.”

Let’s Be Careful Out There

The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) also has coming improvements aimed at maintaining the Florida facility’s ranking as the 10th busiest container port in the U.S. by TEUs and among the nation’s top vehicle-handling ports. But JAXPORT also has security on its mind, as demonstrated by a new program that brings together tenants, vessel operators, rail and intermodal stakeholders, key vendors, and local public sector organizations.

To address a national priority initiative of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville Captain of the Port, JAXPORT has partnered with the nonprofit Maritime Transportation System Information Sharing and Analysis Center to form a new cybersecurity information sharing cooperative called the Northeast Florida Maritime Information Exchange (NEFL-MIX). 

“Cybersecurity is a critical part of supply chain security,” says JAXPORT CEO Eric Green. “We are thrilled to launch this important initiative to protect our maritime community from cyber threats and ensure that our port-related businesses can continue to do the important work they do to keep cargo moving and people working throughout Northeast Florida.”

JAXPORT’s involvement does not surprise Christy Coffey, vice president of Operations with for the Maritime Transportation System Information Sharing and Analysis Center. “They have been influential in the design of our Information Exchange program and an active contributor to our [center] since inception,” she says, “so it’s rewarding to see the NEFL-MIX become reality. This busy port has included a diverse group of stakeholders in their cybersecurity information exchange. We know that under JAXPORT’s thoughtful leadership, the NEFL-MIX will positively impact both cybersecurity preparedness and response.”

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The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has more than struck a nerve with its recent report that humans are to blame for the Earth heading for environmental disaster.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the report was “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening.” 

He further stated that, “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet.” 

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai.

The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.

“Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid and sustained reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and reaching net zero CO2 emissions,” said Zhia, in his comments when the report was released. “Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits for health and the climate.”

Aspects of the marine industry have been targeted in the past as culprits in the spread of CO2 emissions and other pollutants. In the past four or five years, ports throughout North America have been implementing programs to reduce emissions, through the use of electric terminal equipment, shore power and LNG facilities. Every bit helps. 

The Port of Houston, however, has elevated its game in the protection of the environment. Striving to do its part on climate change, Port Houston has been doing its share and more for nearly 20 years, long before climate change became the hot topic it is today.

On its website, Port Houston is described as a 25-mile-long complex of nearly 200 private and public industrial terminals along the 52-mile-long Houston Ship Channel. The eight public terminals are owned, operated, managed or leased by the Port of Houston Authority and include general cargo terminals and container terminals.

Each year, more than 247 million tons of cargo move through the greater Port of Houston, carried by more than 8,200 vessels and 215,000 barges. In 2019, the port achieved the No. 1 ranking in total waterborne tonnage in the U.S. and still ranks first in the U.S. in foreign waterborne tonnage. Port Houston is also home to a multi-billion petrochemical complex, the largest in the nation and second-largest in the world.

In 2002, the Port of Houston Authority became the first such entity in the U.S. to achieve an ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system, which was an indication of the seriousness of its environmental efforts. 

So, what was the determination behind the environmental drive in the early 2000s?

“I think the port always had a view that if we don’t have a healthy environment, it is hard to have a healthy economy,” says Rich Byrnes, Port Houston’s chief port infrastructure officer, “and the mission of ports is to facilitate trade and facilitate commerce.”

Houston port officials’ views on a healthy environment and economy roll into their top concern over the Texas region’s quality of life, according to Byrnes, who also cautioned there is a public perception that the port authority has jurisdiction over more facilities than it actually does.

“We operate the public docks, which are primarily container terminals and general cargo terminals,” Byrnes clarified. The liquid bulk activities and 200 other docks and wharves are privately owned and operated by a few dozen major companies that also own the refineries and petrochemical complex.

“That puts us in an interesting situation because the public looks to the port, looks to us as representative of the Greater Port of Houston where 70% of the ships that come in are going to those private bulk facilities,” Byrnes says. “So, we realize we can’t do things alone.”

The chief infrastructure officer was quick to note that Port Houston is not going to solve climate change and the major challenges that have been highlighted in the UN report as those are global issues, but his team we will do what they can locally.

“We have neighbors and we have communities who are concerned about every dock and wharf that gets built and about noise, the light, the emissions that happen up and down the ship channel and we hear it all,” he says. “Whether or not we are responsible for it or not, we hear it because we have public port commission meetings and that’s a forum for the public to come in and say these are the things that are going right and wrong in the area. 

“Many times, it is not our jurisdiction, it may be the EPA or the Texas Commission on Environment Quality, but we hear it all. Our stance on the environment, including being the first port ISO Certified back in 2002, was all motivated because we are trying to be responsive to the port stakeholders who live and breathe around the port. I don’t know if the awareness of climate change back in the early 2000s was what it is today, so I won’t say those changes were motivated by climate change. They were motivated by a port responding to local stakeholders.”

It is part of the port’s mandate to work in partnership with the private companies along the ship channel as well as various agencies to develop programs to deal with climate change and unwanted pollutants, according to Byrnes.

Early this year, the port authority published an environmental leadership strategy with stated goals on what it wants to achieve in the near term and long term when it comes to clean air, water quality, storm water runoff and other ecological concerns.

“As part of that we are doing a whole bunch of things and the port has reduced its carbon footprint by 55% over the last four years,” Byrnes stated. “One of the big needle movers there was an electricity contract.” 

That’s a reference to the port having signed an electricity contract with Shell, which built a solar field in West Texas with the public grant.

“So, one thing we did,” Byrnes says, “we introduced electric vehicles to our fleet and those types of things.” 

Another partnership with the Texas Commission on Environment Quality, which was aimed at emissions reductions, resulted in a number of recommendations.

“One of the things that was implementable in the immediate term was to purchase an electric yard mule to move containers around the yards,” Byrnes recalled. “That technology we had tried about 10 years ago, but the technology at the time didn’t stand up to the workload pressures but we tried it again. It has been in our fleet for about six months now and we are seeing good performance, so we will probably continue to move in that direction.

Another port goal resulted in the launch of a “sustainability action team”—with an emphasis on “action,” according to Byrnes, who stressed that the authority wants the public to realize there are several initiatives in the works. One initiative involved invitations to about 140 different stakeholders for five, two-hour environmental workshops.

“We had about 80 participate from all walks of life—citizens, community and environmental advocacy groups but also the cargo shippers, beneficial cargo owners, the cargo carriers and industry partners,” said Byrnes. 

Through these workshops, there was a review of more than 100 sustainable projects at 70 ports around the world, which allowed Houston to match up its own projects with other global sustainability concepts.

“We took a sampling of that and said these are the types of things that can fit here in Houston,” Byrnes said. 

The authority spokesman said that during the workshops, “we asked a couple of simple questions. The first was what is important to the stakeholders and what can we do about it. The prime areas were clean energy, emissions reduction, community strengthening, circular economy and transparency. What we came up with was a list of 27 opportunities to either lead, partner or support different sustainability initiatives, and that lead, partner and support model was important because there are some things we can do inside of our own gates.”

Byrnes said the authority can introduce electric vehicles to its own facilities and reduce its own carbon footprint, but it can’t mandate billions of dollars to pipelines and others systems in the shipping channel because they belong to private industry.

“The things we can’t lead, we need to partner. So, we are having conversations with big oil companies and entrepreneurial startups around initiatives that would translate into the initial transition to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, for example, helping ships transition to LNG or other alternative fuels.” 

The goal would be for the partners to become carbon neutral through, for instance, proper sourcing and blending of the materials going into the feedstock.

As for the supporting concept, “There are of major initiatives going on right now,” Byrnes said. 

For instance, in June the Blue Sky Maritime Coalition, which Port Houston co-founded, was launched. It is a collection of about three dozen companies with a focus on de-carbonizing shipping. Byrnes said the port authority can support this initiative “by making sure our initiatives are aligned with those initiatives. We are also joining the international agencies’ hydrogen ports coalition, which is similarly about exchanging ideas and practices to transition to clean energy.

“The other thing we are doing is working with the Center for Houston’s Future around the hydrogen economy and its transition,” Byrnes continued. 

That work will deal with questions such as how to accelerate Houston as a hub, all the installed infrastructure that comes with technology as well as the jobs and skills that will be absolutely suited to introducing new forms of energy and energy management.

“If there is going to be a place to contribute to the implementation of hydrogen and ammonia, it will be a place like Houston,” Byrnes added.

In discussions on environmental issues and suggestions to reduce carbon emissions, the overall reaction from private entities has been positive, according to Byrnes.

“I think they enthusiastically joined in our sustainability workshops, and as we did some homework we didn’t have to look far to find their own sustainability reports and strategies,” he said, noting almost every company along the ship channel has such goals, most of which are published. “So, we took a look at what they are doing and aligned to that. Some of these are ocean carriers, some who either own or charter ships; they are moving to cleaner fuels, driven a bit by IMO 2020, low Sulphur fuel requirements, also engine manufacturers or ship owners moving to alternative fuels, either LNG-powered ships and even ammonia powered ships.”

Byrnes added that companies whose business is clearly in the oil and gas sector “are not going away any time soon, but they are all focused on what the future holds and preparing themselves strategically, so they have sustainability initiatives.”

He went on to make this point about oil and gas companies: “When we talk about sustainability, climate change and impacts, there seems to be a lot of vilification of the fossil fuel industry. There is an angle here in Houston that some of the companies promote and that is it is in the national interest to export energy. And they like to make money doing it, but when we export natural gas to places like India and China, that is replacing wood, coal and dung in people’s homes and things like that. So, there is actually a net benefit to positioning fuel. While these companies all have sustainability goals, their business is doing some good things as well.”

While ports around North America and globally have over the past five years moved to more environmentally sustainable practices, it would appear Port Houston, with its many initiatives, investments and dialogue with numerous stakeholders, has carved itself a leadership role in the marine ports’ climate change battle.

“We like to say we are an environmental leader and what that means is being vigilant and always looking for what else we can do,” says Byrnes. “And that’s what we are focused on this year, 2021.”

As for the next five to 10 years for Port Houston with respect to the environment “we will keep doing what we are doing, but I think we are maybe at a tipping point. There have been a lot of ideas that have been talked about for the past several years, that are ideas whose time has come,” he says. 

One example is the transition to cleaner fuels for ships, with an ever-growing number of vessels transitioning to LNG and other alternatives.

 “As a port, we are going to try to facilitate the acceleration of this energy adaption so we can get to a lower emission transportation industry in this area,” said Byrnes, adding there is a lot of “pioneering work ongoing.”



Nearly every business has experienced the effects of today’s global supply chain disruptions over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, including product delays, shortages and rising costs. Pandemic-related challenges that were expected to be temporary are now predicted to last well into 2022—and potentially beyond.

The ocean freight industry has arguably shared the spotlight the most due to record-breaking prices, port congestion, container shortages and more. The average price worldwide to ship a 40-foot container has more than tripled from the beginning of 2021 and is 10 times pre-pandemic rates. Only a few months ago outside two of the biggest ports in the U.S. near Los Angeles and Long Beach, California (which manage 40% of all cargo containers entering the country), more than 70 vessels waited to dock. Before the pandemic, it was rare to see more than one.

Given today’s complexities, it’s important we examine the key 2021 learnings from the ocean logistics industry to incorporate lessons learned as we prepare to navigate the year ahead.

Lesson 1: Embrace Flexible Shipping Routes

As capacity shrank, container ships experienced record times to dock and labor shortages backlogged the unloading of cargo, 2021 highlighted that flexibility is key to a successful shipping strategy. For 3PLs and freight forwarders, this meant adapting plans in real time to manage limited resources in the most strategic way possible according to each customer’s specific product and goals.

For some large retailers and automotive manufacturers, for instance, we witnessed growing shifts from ocean to air cargo as an alternative. While air freight ensures a faster and more reliant shipment of goods, it is also a much more expensive option. According to Freightos, a $195 ocean shipment can comparatively cost $1,000 via air. Because of these major price discrepancies, we have largely seen the trend of shifting from ocean to air routes among big-box retailers and manufacturers of premium goods that can absorb the higher rates.

However, shifting from ocean to air is not feasible for most brands. Instead, flexibility in 2021 also meant pivoting to different ocean routes. Throughout the pandemic, many countries have closed or limited capacity at key shipping ports for reasons like worker shortages or limiting the spread of the virus. This presented 3PLs and freight forwarders with the opportunity to explore less traditionally traveled sea routes to try to mitigate delays. For example, closures in Australia due to COVID-19 significantly decreased capacity from the United States. As a result, some forwarders successfully rerouted to Singapore and finally to Sydney as a solution.

In 2021, we also increasingly saw shippers embrace a hybrid sea-air model. While transitioning wholly from ocean to air isn’t viable for most, shippers did strategically tap into air to move critical inventory to keep operations running smoothly on an as-needed basis. Ultimately, 2021 taught us that flexible, real-time adjustments to supply chain routes based on the current environment and each customer’s strategic goals is crucial to best navigate backlogs.

Lesson 2: Explore Agile & Visible Solutions

While the ocean freight industry has always experienced unplanned challenges beyond its control, such as severe weather, the impacts of COVID-19 have only exacerbated these preexisting issues. Now, it is more important than ever that shippers explore creative solutions to mitigate the effects of today’s both expected and unexpected challenges.

For example, in 2021, we saw the growing trend of major retailers and 3PLs chartering their own shipping vessels to combat capacity issues. Coca-Cola began chartering vessels typically reserved for raw goods like coal and iron to instead use for finished goods. Retailers such as Walmart explored chartering smaller container ships to dock at smaller ports to help side-step congestion. Also chartering vessels more and more were 3PLs seeking to guarantee capacity for clients in an ultra-tight sea freight market. While in the past this has traditionally been viewed as risky due to cost and capacity, chartering vessels became a creative solution for many this year to supplement carrier agreements.

For other shippers, particularly those unable to charter their own vessels, freight consolidation services became especially vital in 2021. Many brands leveraged Less than Container Load (LCL) services for reasons like the need to ship smaller and less-sensitive products on a more ad-hoc basis to keep up with fluctuating e-commerce demands. Partnerships with 3PLs became even more important thanks to fixed sailing schedules with space across all major routes, steady cargo volume to consolidate orders, and competitive rates and conditions.

This year also reinforced that incorporating sophisticated visibility technology into operations is imperative for maneuvering supply chain challenges. A 24/7 freight management application allows for real-time tracking and tracing and full control over shipments. Incorporating the latest visibility technology provides critical data across every stage of the supply chain—from tracking fluctuating customer demands to updates on freight in transit—to empower real-time, data-driven decisions. Visibility has proven to be particularly important during the pandemic to mitigate unforeseen disruptions by rapidly adjusting resources and strategies.

Lesson 3: Adjust Your Supply Chain with New Resources

The pandemic underscored just how critical it is to partner with supply chain experts amid times of severe disruption. In fact, a recent study predicts strategic relationships between shippers and 3PLs will increase from 28% to 45% over the next five years due to the effects of COVID-19.

There are several reasons behind this shift from transactional to relationship-driven partnerships between 3PLs and customers. First and foremost, a partnership with a skilled 3PL allows shippers to outsource supply chain management so instead, they can focus on their core competencies. Shippers found that working with a 3PL during the pandemic, when business decisions changed daily based on the fast-changing environment, was particularly significant in order to focus on running efficient operations. Deemed an essential service during the pandemic, 3PLs were also able to keep supply chains moving and businesses running.

Additionally, 3PLs are able to offer real-time adjustments to shipping strategies based on the current environment. Utilizing an international network across all modes of transportation, global 3PLs are equipped to provide comprehensive, 360-degree recommendations across the supply chain to source the best possible solution. For many businesses during the pandemic, demand was unpredictable and ever-changing. An advantage of partnering with a 3PL is its ability to quickly and easily scale operations up or down based on demand so customers can run their businesses most efficiently. With a massive network of transportation carriers, including vessels, planes, trucks and rails, 3PLs can tap into their strategic partners to best source capacity even during strained environments.

As we look ahead to 2022, it is important we learn from the ocean logistics challenges of the past year as these issues are not expected to end anytime soon. Because of this, it will be increasingly vital that businesses emphasize flexible and agile shipping strategies and relationship-driven, third-party partnerships to best navigate what is to come.


Joshua Garee is vice president of U.S. Ocean Product at GEODIS in Americas. Previously the vice president of Operations at PAC International Logistics, Garee has a proven record of growing organizational talent and implementing innovative solutions through key leadership, best practice, strategic planning, continuous improvement, financial planning and cost management.

georgia ports authority


Capacity expansion, cranes and infrastructure are the focuses for Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) in FY2021. The GPA announced the official approval of $305 million in projects to increase overall TEU capacity for the Port of Savannah from 6 million to 7.4 million. 

The goal of meeting increased cargo volume includes support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the deepening of the Savannah Harbor. Additional projects include the re-purposing of property on Garden City Terminal and doubling GPA’s rail lift capacity to 2 million TEUs per year through commissioning the second set of nine new working tracks at the Mason Mega Rail terminal. 

The GPA has begun refurbishing Berth 1 at the Garden City Terminal to increase the dock capacity to include four 16,000-TEU vessels–the largest class of container ships currently serving the U.S. East Coast–as well as three additional ships. The greater efficiency possible when working one large vessel compared to multiple smaller ones will increase Savannah’s overall berth capacity and velocity of vessel service. This renovation alone will add 1 million TEUs per year of capacity for the berth. 

The most recent additions completed by the GPA include the Appalachian Regional Port’s addition of six container storage bays, bringing the TEU slots to 390 for increased demand at the inland terminal and an overall capacity increase of 25,000 TEUs annually. 

In February, the GPA commissioned an additional 6,000 TEUs of grounded container slots at Savannah’s Ocean Terminal, including space for dry and refrigerated containers. The expanded container yard is served by six rubber-tired gantry cranes, for an increased capacity there of 210,000 TEUs annually.

At Garden City Terminal, the GPA added six new ship-to-shore cranes in FY2020 and 20 new rubber-tired gantry cranes for a total of 172. Also at Garden City Terminal, the GPA brought online new container stacks for berths 7, 8 and 9, increasing Savannah’s annual capacity by 400,000 TEUs.

Looking ahead to the future, the GPA has purchased 145 acres adjacent to the Mason Mega Rail Terminal. GPA is developing 92 of those acres for an additional 750,000 annual TEU capacity within the next two years. 

port tampa bay

BIG SHIP READY: COSCO Shipping is Among Container Lines that Call Port Tampa Bay

Port Tampa Bay has emerged as Florida’s preferred new supply chain solution for containerized cargo. The incorporation of direct Asia container services and new connections to Mexico and Central America have significantly enhanced the port’s role in serving the state’s largest and fastest-growing market—the Tampa Bay/Orlando 1-4 Corridor, Florida’s distribution hub. 

The Central Florida region has boomed into one of the hottest industrial real estate markets in the country, becoming the state’s hub for distribution, logistics and manufacturing. As the “front door to the I-4,” Port Tampa Bay is well situated to help businesses capitalize on the growth of the region, which is driving demand for retail, e-commerce, food & beverage, energy products and construction & building materials. 

New tenant Celadon will soon break ground on a paper fiber manufacturing plant that aims to generate up to 80,000 TEUs/year for export to Asia. The port recently expanded terminal capacity with additional paved storage and extended berths to keep pace with continued growth. Part of the expansion includes additional cranes and equipment, and new trans-load warehouse facilities.

The Port recently welcomed CMA CGM, COSCO, Evergreen, OOCL, Maersk and Sealand to their family of container lines offering an array of new services, joining established carrier partners ZIM, MSC and Seatrade. 

Expanded connections serving trade with Mexico offer more efficient supply chain solutions versus the traditional costly and congested overland routes. Work Cat recently began offering a weekly Brownsville Texas-Port Tampa Bay container-on-barge services using 53-foot containers, which is especially attractive for customers used to receiving deliveries by truck from Monterrey and Northern Mexico. ZIM recently launched a weekly Altamira-Port Tampa Bay service, the Mexico Tampa Shuttle, with Kuehne and Nagel as partners on the new service, promoted as the Blue Marlin Express. Seatrade’s SeacatLine also increased the frequency of its Costa Rica service to weekly.

Importers and exporters in Florida’s distribution hub now enjoy significant savings as truckers make as many as three to four roundtrip deliveries per day from Port Tampa Bay to their distribution centers. Partners such as container terminal operator Ports America and cold storage specialist Port Logistics Refrigerated Services have made it possible for Port Tampa Bay to expand infrastructure and capacity to ensure it is well-positioned for continued growth.

long beach


The Port of Long Beach has become a global leader in operational excellence, outstanding customer service, moving cargo with reliability, speed, and efficiency making it the premier U.S. gateway for trans-Pacific trade. 

As the second-busiest container seaport, the Port of Long Beach handles trade valued at $200 billion annually and supports 2.6 million trade-related jobs across the United States. This includes 575,000 in Southern California and one in five jobs in Long Beach, which is southwest of Los Angeles. 

Spanning across 3,200 acres with 31 miles of waterfront, 10 piers, 66 post-Panamax cranes, and amongst the deepest berths in the country, the port’s world-class facilities can accommodate the largest shipping vessels in the world. Goods moving through the port originate in or are destined for every U.S. congressional district. 

With a keen eye toward building a successful and sustainable future, the port is pursuing long-term capital improvement projects. In 2020, the port opened a new bridge built for the modern era of shipping and goods movement. This year, the port will complete the final phase of the world’s most technologically advanced container terminal, the Long Beach Container Terminal at Middle Harbor.

In the next 10 years, the port plans to invest $1.7 billion in modernization to further prepare for the demands of global trade. The strategy includes investing $1 billion in on-dock rail projects, aimed at substantially increasing reliability, adding capacity, strengthening competitiveness, improving speed-to-market, and allowing for the rapid movement of cargo throughout the harbor.

The Port of Long Beach operates Foreign Trade Zone 50 that lessens the impact of tariffs and eliminates Customs clearance delays by having shipments delivered directly to qualifying businesses within Orange County and parts of San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

Additionally, the port is proactively working to handle the ongoing surge in cargo shipments brought on by consumer demand for imports. Among other measures, the port has opened STOR (Short-Term Overflow Resource yard) to provide extra near-dock space to help importers and exporters cope with the cargo volume. 

The Business Recovery Task Force, which was established just over a year ago, serves as a key internal group to work with customers, industry partners, labor and government agencies to ensure terminal and supply chain operations continue without disruption.

Added investigations for locating funds to enable a 24/7 supply chain will put the port on the same footing here in the U.S. as they are in Asia and parts of Europe.

Customers choose the Port of Long Beach for the most dependable, cost-effective and fastest delivery of goods in the world, along with the strong relationships it maintains with industry, community, environmental advocates and partner agencies. In 2020, industry leaders named it “The Best West Coast Seaport in North America” for the second consecutive year. 

port of baltimore


The Port of Baltimore continues expansion efforts following the completion of successful dredging operations for a second 50-foot-deep container berth at its Seagirt Marine Terminal on April 20. 

This project—supported by a partnership between the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) and Ports America Chesapeake—started in January and will allow the simultaneous handling of two ultra-large ships. 

The 50-foot berth paired with the Howard Street Terminal expansion project will not only increase business opportunities but also grow the region’s workforce, adding more value to the $122.1 million investment. Of this amount, $105 million is from Ports America, $10.5 million from the state, and $6.6 million in federal funding.

The second, deep-container berth project was spearheaded and completed by Corman Kokosing of Annapolis Junction with the help of two dredges—Koko V and Koko VI. Additionally, more than 465,000 cubic yards of sediment were successfully removed by the company’s SN3 unloader barge for reuse in land restoration and more. With this new addition, the port announced the addition of four neo-Panamax cranes to arrive and be operational later this year at Seagirt.

“The Port of Baltimore and its skilled workforce have always played a key role in supporting Maryland’s economy and keeping the state’s supply chain open and reliable,” MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “Now, together with our public and private partners, we’re seeing the future of the port take shape. Additional berth capacity and the ability to move cargo on double-stacked rail cars with the Howard Street Tunnel expansion will attract new and expanded business to the port, boost revenue, grow jobs and lead the way in Maryland’s economic recovery.”

The expansion of the region’s Howard Street Terminal aims to improve capacity along the East Coast’s rail lines from Baltimore, pending the final approval by the National Environmental Policy Act. Construction at the 126-year-old terminal is projected to begin at the end of 2021 and is supported by public-private investments between the federal government, Maryland, CSX and others. These developments continue supporting the region’s workforce while increasing state tax revenue and funds for the Transportation Trust Fund.

“We’re moving forward in the Port of Baltimore,” said MDOT MPA Executive Director William P. Doyle. “We appreciate the on-time and on-budget dredging work completed by Maryland-based Corman Kokosing, a great U.S.-flag dredging and marine construction operator. This summer, we’ll welcome four new neo-Panamax cranes and later this year, we’ll break ground on the Howard Street Tunnel project, giving the port and CSX double-stack capability north, south and all the way out to Chicago. These are very exciting times for the Port of Baltimore.”