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Established in 1980 to meet the needs of a newly deregulated domestic transportation market, Armstrong & Associates provides unparalleled third-party logistics market research. With offices smack dab in Middle America (Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, to be precise) and a newsletter that is emailed to more than 88,000 subscribers globally, A&A, as the hep cats call it, churns out market estimates found in media accounts, trade publications (like you-know-who) and securities filings by publicly traded 3PLs,

One thing consumers of A&A’s research gobble up every year is the Top 25 Global Freight Forwarders List. The 2021 version (see accompanying chart) includes rankings based on 2020 gross revenue and freight forwarding volume.

Once again, DHL, Kuehne + Nagel, DB Schenker, DSV Panalpina, Sinotrans, Expeditors and Nippon Express take the power positions, but there are also new entrants: Apex Logistics International and CTS International Logistics.

Wherever your company falls (or does not fall) on the list, it is important to consider that we are (fingers crossed) coming out of unprecedented times in the ocean freight shipping game. A shipping container shortage led to a massive spike in freight rates. Of course, during the height of the pandemic, production and trade halted, leaving ocean carriers in limbo—and many are still trying to regain their sea legs. 

Yes, the busiest trade routes are humming again. The Long Beach/Los Angeles port complex experienced a 23% spike in volume in December 2020 compared to the previous year and, despite the pandemic, the second busiest December in their history. On the opposite coast, the ports of Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, also dealt with massive influxes in traffic.

Ports that did not share in that success can at least take solace in knowing congestion has created fresh headaches for the industry leaders. Maersk and MSC have pulled certain carriers from their regular rotations in the short term. Timing shipments, so products can navigate through offshore parking lots and reach store shelves in time for the holidays, has become the sweet science. 

Meanwhile, many shippers say they’re operating at losses to meet their global customers’ demands. Keep in mind this is at a time when investing much more into that magic bullet known as digitization is all the rage. The aforementioned Maersk is using technology to streamline freight booking, particularly spot booking. CMA CGM, Yang Ming Marine and Hapag-Lloyd also introduced freight booking tools. And artificial intelligence (AI) is growing as a major force in global shipping.

Here comes another headache: The reliance on tech increases the risks of cyberattacks. Since 2017, nearly half of the top 10 freight carriers worldwide were victims of digital security breaches, including a $300 million loss from Maersk due to a ransomware cyberattack.

While noble, sustainability efforts create another money-sucker for ports and logistics companies. The freight shipping industry represents approximately 2.2% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, which expected to rise by 50% by 2050 if action isn’t taken. Carriers are doing their part by switching to more environmentally friendly fuels, such as liquified natural gas (LNG). Around 13% of new vessels ordered this year are LNG fueled, because a clean planet = priceless.


2021 Rank*

Service Provider

Gross Revenue 
(US$ Millions)**


2020 Rank

1 DHL Supply Chain & Global Forwarding 28,453 2,862,000 1
1 Kuehne + Nagel 25,787 4,529,000 1
2 DB Schenker 20,761 2,052,000 2
2 DSV Panalpina 18,269 2,204,902 3
3 Sinotrans 12,174 3,750,000 4
4 Expeditors 10,116 1,091,380 5
5 Nippon Express 19,347 660,152 6
6 CEVA Logistics*** 7,416 1,081,100*** 7
7 C.H. Robinson 15,490 1,200,000 9
8 Kerry Logistics 6,867 1,019,924 10
8 UPS Supply Chain Solutions 11,048 620,000 8
9 GEODIS 9,135 866,631 12
10 Bolloré Logistics 5,265 761,000 11
11 Hellman Worldwide Logistics 2,972 905,100 12
12 Kintetsu World Express 5,750 640,063 13
13 Agility 4,018 771,000 14
14 Yusen Logistics 4,248 764,000 14
15 CTS International Logistics 2,160 1,021,007 Not listed
16 Hitachi Transport System 6,346 662,000 16
17 DACHSER*** 6,591 492,440 15
18 Toll Group 7,260 523,300 18
19 Maersk Logistics (DAMCO) 6,369 401,369 17
20 Apex Logistics International 2,274 190,000 Not Listed
21 Logwin 1,292 698,000 19
22 Mainfreight 2,467 347,638 21


* Ranking also factors in a forwarder’s air cargo shipments by metric tons.

** Revenues and volumes are company reported or Armstrong & Associates, Inc. estimates. Revenues have been converted to US$ using the average annual exchange rate in order to make non-currency related growth comparisons. Freight forwarders are ranked using a combined overall average based on their individual rankings for gross revenue, ocean TEUs and air metric tons.

*** Includes LCL shipments.


2021 Has Felt Like One Big Peak Season: A Global Shipping Market Update

For global freight shippers, managing disruption comes with the job. But the challenges of the last year have truly been out of the ordinary. Supply chain disruptions that consist of port and terminal congestion, shipping delays due to high cargo volumes, lack of labor due to Covid-19 and limited space have caused a myriad of challenges for shippers.

For many, it has felt like one big, never-ending peak season, and they’re all asking when will things get better and what can they do in the interim, especially as we head into pre-holiday shipping.

Unfortunately, disruptions and delays likely won’t be ending soon. But there are best practices that all shippers can follow to navigate the pre-holiday rush. Let’s start with an update on the current air and ocean market situation as we head into fall.

Ocean Shipping

Ocean demand continues to exceed global capacity, with no sign of slowing down. This is compounded by port congestion, largely unreliable and inflexible schedules, and pandemic-driven labor challenges at major ports. But these issues aren’t a product of the pandemic alone.

In 2015, there were roughly 17 global ocean carriers. After mergers and consolidations, only 9 remain in 2021. Those 9 have been further consolidated into three alliances that control over 80% of the global containerized market. As a result, there are limited options for getting space on vessels and lower flexibility across vessel schedules due to the number of ships in rotation and the lack of available containers.

Globally, schedule reliability in ocean shipping is at the lowest we’ve ever seen. Right now, the reliability that a vessel carrying goods will arrive on time is roughly 40%. At this time last year, it was over 80%. While ocean carriers are trying to stay on track to destinations by skipping ports or enabling blank sailings, improving the schedule systematically in time, their methods are negatively impacting customers trying to transport products out of high-traffic areas such as Asia in a timely manner.

Air Shipping

Lower levels of passenger air travel over the past year have created congestion at air cargo terminals worldwide.

Pandemic-induced travel restrictions reduced commercial air capacity dramatically. Instead of having weekly passenger flights that move cargo volume to a wider network of airports in smaller quantities, most freight is now consolidated at larger terminals in bigger quantities via freighters or charter flights.

Terminals are then receiving increasingly large waves of freight, pushing demand to an all-time high over this past summer while also having to navigate labor shortages. Today, some of the larger terminals such as Chicago are seeing up to two-week delays in the recovery of cargo.

In addition, changes in export screening standards in the U.S. are also creating backlogs and congestion at terminals that are exacerbated by a lack of warehouse capacities. Carriers have been tasked with picking up more screening activities than usual because some shippers may not be partnering with the right forwarder who can take care of the screening for them.

This increased screening is also at odds with expedited terminal timelines, which currently give carriers as little as 12 hours to move freight that traditionally would have had a 48-hour takeoff window. If problems are encountered during screening or transportation to the terminal that slow the timeline, congestion will follow.

What Now?

No one solution is going to bring an end to the challenges of today’s market. But there are a few proven best practices shippers can use to better navigate the current challenges:

Maintain a flexible approach and be open to different options

To stay on top of this market, global shippers must commit to maintaining a flexible approach toward moving their freight. Remaining open to new and different options, such as less-than-container-load (LCL) ocean shipping, different routings or air charters when needed, as well as on-the-spot troubleshooting, can significantly improve shipping outcomes.

For example, for one C.H. Robinson customer moving PPE (personal protective equipment), Thomas Scientific, air charters were a fast-shipping option that offered a great deal of flexibility for last-minute demand shifts during the pandemic. The team worked with airlines to charter passenger planes with the seats removed for cargo flights, which offered a creative alternative to crowded cargo flights and other shipping options.

Seek support from providers who can use information to your advantage

When needed, shippers should consider partnering with a logistics provider that can give data-driven market insights to drive smarter solutions for their business. Sometimes shippers aren’t aware of all their options and need quick help figuring out how to circumvent disruptions to keep current and future orders on track. We’ve seen these solutions play out with our global experts and technology platform, Navisphere, by providing shippers with the aggregated data and analysis they need to determine which ports or terminals to avoid and the right tactics to overcome unique challenges.

Closely collaborate and communicate with supply chain partners

In a market as challenging as this one, close collaboration and frequent communication with supply chain experts are critical. For example, we’ve seen shippers overcome a variety of new challenges this year because they allowed daily cross-functional meetings with our team and theirs. To develop robust solutions, both teams need to truly understand all aspects of shipping challenges and what a company is trying to achieve.

Final Thoughts

Shipping disruptions likely won’t be ending soon. It has taken the industry about a year to get to this point, so it’s safe to say that it may take just as long for things to revert to normal levels or to adjust to the higher demand. Shippers have had to become increasingly nimble and informed to create success throughout this past year, and they must commit to staying flexible and seeking alternative solutions to continue overcoming obstacles.


Mike Short was named president of global freight forwarding in May 2015. Short started in the global forwarding industry in 1997 and joined C.H. Robinson through the acquisition of Phoenix International in 2012. Prior to being named President, Mike served as Vice President, Global Forwarding – North America. Prior to joining C.H. Robinson, Short held a number of roles at Phoenix International, including Regional Manager, Sales Manager, and General Manager of the St. Louis office. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business.



Throughout the course of human history, civilizations have relied on transit across water to travel, trade and invade. Archaeologists can trace the use of boats back many thousands of years, with circumstantial evidence pointing toward their use as early as 9,500 BC, well before the Pesse canoe, commonly thought to represent the world’s oldest known boat.

Navigational knowledge and boatbuilding techniques have advanced steadily over time; the enormous ships we see transporting people and goods today are extraordinary evolutions of their ancestors.

In the container ship realm, it was not until the 1950s that the first commercially successful vessel completed its maiden voyage. Named Ideal X, it was a T2 tanker owned by Malcom McClean that carried 58 containers between Newark, New Jersey, and Houston. By contrast, today’s largest container ship, the HMM Algeciras, can carry up to 24,000 TEUs. 

Shipping is, quite literally, big business. In monetary terms, the $900 billion shipping logistics industry is expected to be valued at more than $2 trillion by 2023, growth underpinned by increasingly efficient vessels that make use of cutting-edge innovations. 

For instance, by 2025 the global market for electric-powered shipping vessels is set to be worth $8.4 billion, rising to $15.6 billion come the end of the decade. 

Meanwhile, the demand for maritime data analytics is set to increase from $895 million in 2019 to more than $1.8 billion by 2027. Wherever you look, technology is steering the value of big ships upwards. 

Artificial intelligence – an unstoppable tide?  

One strand of technological innovation in ships that is making waves is artificial intelligence (AI). 

Defined as the ability of a machine or a robot controlled by a computer to do tasks that are usually done by humans because they require human intelligence and discernment, AI is taking on an increasing number of use cases aboard large vessels. 

Fuel is one of the largest costs for shipping companies. For Swedish shipping giant Stena Line, it constitutes a massive 20 percent of all running costs. Innovation to help cut fuel consumption has therefore become a major priority. 

Stena, which is also one of the world’s largest ferry operators, has been experimenting with the use of AI technology on one of its vessels as it travels overnight from Gothenburg to the German Port of Kiel. 

Working in collaboration with Hitachi, the Stena Fuel Pilot can predict the most fuel-efficient way to operate a vessel and assist the onboard captain and crew to lower the fuel consumption. The results from Stena Scandinavica show a reduced fuel consumption of 2-3 percent per trip, results which have prompted Stena to deploy the AI assistant across its entire fleet of 37 ships.

Niklas Kapare, captain on M/S Skåne, has used the technology first-hand. He commented: “We can see that it is working, even though we need to continue to adjust it to improve the results. As a captain, I get a good overview of several factors such as wind, currents and squat, and assistance to use the right power and number of engines to lower the fuel consumption.”

Another important use case for AI aboard vessels is navigation. Using sophisticated tracking software in tandem with IoT connectivity, these systems can be leveraged to analyze multiple navigational scenarios. 

Stena is, once again, leading the way in this regard through its AI Captain solution. It is capable of recalculating routes during voyages when it receives information to suggest that problems may lie ahead. Such problems could be in the immediate distance, and it is here that AI-powered image recognition technology has a role to play. 

An example of this in action is a collaboration between Chinese tech firm SenseTime and Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines. SenseTime’s system leverages ultra-high-resolution cameras and a graphic processing unit to automatically identify vessels in a ship’s surrounding area, designed to prevent large vessels such as container ships and cruise liners from colliding with smaller ones. The solution can also alert crew to other hazards when visibility is poor.

It is not just aboard ships that AI can have an impact, however. The industry could also benefit from slicker terminal operations, with AI being trialed in a number of areas such as container handling, decking systems, gate volume predictions and vessel stowage. 

According to a study from Navis toward the end of 2019, 88 percent of respondents indicated that automated decision-making will be very, if not extremely, important for the future of innovation at terminals. 

Andy Barrons, chief strategy officer at Navis, said at the time: “Just a few short years ago, only a handful of our customers were even open to the idea of automation or other disruptive technologies designed to make the container terminal smarter, safer and more sustainable.

“The survey demonstrates just how far the industry has come–and will continue to go–in harnessing technology in the right ways to automate decision making within terminals. We firmly believe that automation and the use of AI is our future, and will continue to support our current and future customers as they embark down this critical path.”

A fully autonomous future?

But just how far will AI technology embed itself into the workings of ships and the wider industry? 

It is a mightily difficult question to answer, but there are signs that we are only just at the beginning of AI’s shipping industry voyage. 

Yara Birkeland is an emission-free and fully autonomous 120 TEU container ship that is under construction and due to be launched imminently. At the end of November 2020, the ship was handed over to Yara from the Norwegian shipyard Vard Brattvåg, where it is undergoing testing for container loading and stability before being sailed to a port and test area in Horten for further preparations. 

Elsewhere, the European Union through its Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program is funding a three-year project aimed at creating trade lanes linked by automated port services and used by autonomous ships. 

The Advanced, Efficient and Green Intermodal Systems (AEGIS) initiative is expected to complete in May 2023 and is in line with the EU’s plans to accelerate efforts to shift road transport volumes to rail and waterborne transport. Although the project is targeting smaller ships and short-sea operations, the wider implications could be momentous if it is deemed a successful endeavor. 

However, one of the stumbling blocks in relation to automated ships is cost. 

The enormity of the technology required (at least at present) means that many ship operators, especially those with large vessels, will not be entertaining the prospect of full-scale fleet conversion anytime soon. The Yara Birkeland, for example, is estimated to cost around $25 million–three times more than a conventional container vessel of the same size. 

While AI has proven to yield considerable financial savings, operational efficiencies and safety benefits across a range of use cases, it may be some time before we see unmanned giants roaming our seas. 


The Suez Canal Crisis: Some Lasting Ripples Aren’t Making Headlines

It came down to physics: a sandstorm, shipping containers stacked too high (believe it or not, they acted like a sail), and a ship too big to spin around.

At the time of this article’s publication, it’s still unclear whether human error by the Ever Given’s captain is also partially responsible for the global shipping crisis caused by the 20,000 TEU container ship’s weeklong “vacation” in the Suez Canal.

Also at the time of publication, the crisis — which ended more than two weeks ago — continues to result in global shipping delays averaging five to six weeks.

I see two main areas where the ripples of the disaster will continue the strongest:

Increased pricing, decreased supply: The carriers are taking advantage of the situation and North American shippers are suffering as their equipment is being sent out empty to regions where the carrier can take a financial position and move those containers at greater profits.

In 2019, shipping industry profits came in at about a dismal -$12 billion. In 2020, they managed to flip it to +$14 billion — that’s not a trend they’re going to let go of easily.

Compounding obstacles: Shippers were stretched even before the Ever Given headed down the canal that fateful day, so adding capacity isn’t a viable solution. The previous problems hampering shippers are now exacerbated.

-The global shortage of shipping containers continues to cause a ripple effect of its own.

-Travel restrictions stemming from the pandemic continue to result in reduced air cargo opportunities.

-The above factors and more continue to overwhelm trucking companies, who face employee shortages and rising expenses.

North American recovery is also hampered by a lack of awareness on the global stage. Many companies headquartered abroad don’t understand the hurdles American vendors continue to face — for example, the price gouging. The United States is one of the only countries where the  government doesn’t oversee or own lines of transportation — in most others, it controls or owns at least cargo shipping and airlines — so vendors and logistics companies are dealing with rate hikes. On the other hand, those countries are also at risk of delays caused due to slow-acting governments entrenched in bureaucracy.

CTOs should be concentrating on finding other viable ways for customers to move freight. Plan for a delay of 5-7 weeks compared to your usual shipping estimates, for the foreseeable future. Air freight — despite the delays caused by the pandemic-crippled air travel industry — is probably your best bet for now. You might have to get your CPO and/or client to make some tough decisions based on how eager they are to get their product to market.

Your next priorities are forecasting and having your product line in order. Take note from restaurants and doctor’s offices and build healthy amounts of downtime and lead time into your shipments. At this point in the recovery stage, a strong enough hiccup can still cause a significant backtrack to the progress.

Even though everything is “fixed,” we’re not going back to normal in the near future. In our industry, the pendulum normally has a five-year swing for the upper hand between shippers and vendors. When it comes back down in our favor, it won’t be anywhere near the levels we enjoyed the last time it was our turn.


As Chief Transportation Officer, Carmen Gerace oversees all aspects of global transportation for BDP International, including the implementation of new transport solutions and product offerings while also developing future transport strategy. Throughout his 25+ career in the industry, he has held varying managerial and executive positions at BDP. Carmen is based in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at 


View from the US Gulf: Veteran Surveyor Details the Pitfalls of the Vessel Draught Survey

In this article, Chris Zeringue, Owner, MTS Marine Technical Surveyors, and a longtime worker on US Gulf waters, explains the pitfalls in Vessel Draught Surveys, and how prevailing water conditions and accessibility differences can result in ‘guesstimations’ rather than precise answers. He looks back on a long career on the water and explains where his passion for cargo surveying started.

The key to accuracy in a vessel draught survey may very well be found in a hole in the ship. I boarded my first vessel at the age of 17 in 1975. I was hired out of the local shape-up yard for the night shift aboard a bulker loaded with imported sugar. My job was to shovel sugar out of the vessel hold ribs(trimmer) so that the bulldozer/tractor could push the cargo to the crane bucket. My neighbour was the lead superintendent on the job and his son and I would ride to the shape-up yard with him and put our names on the list to try to get hired for a day or night. If there were not enough Union Hands for the job, they would then call out the names of the non-union hands (aka rabbits). On the days/nights that we did not make the cut, we would hitchhike or walk home, meaning we would have to cross the Mississippi River Bridge by foot at times. My other job during school was working nights and weekends for a mooring company.

The more I worked, the more I liked the waterfront. While shovelling cargo in the bottom of ship holds, my neighbour (the superintendent) would throw an apple or orange down to me to eat. Looking up one day there was a man standing next to him just observing. When I went up out of the hold for a meal break, I asked my neighbour, Papa Deck, “who was the guy with you?” His answer was, “he is a surveyor, and his job is to verify cargo quantity and quality.” I knew from that moment that I would someday trade my shovel position to be a Surveyor.

In 1978, I was hired at my first Surveying (training) position. Now fast forward 42 years and I am one of the owners of a survey company specializing in Ag and Fertilizer products at Marine Technical. Surveyors. I have travelled the world surveying and monitoring customers’ cargoes and solving customer issues.

The one thing that has always bothered me when it came to the accuracy of cargo accountability on bulkers was how to account for water conditions. On bulk cargo carriers, cargo accountability is determined by way of a Vessel Draught Survey, based on water displacement. Many factors go into the calculations and equations, but the one factor stated to be the most important (reference: The Naval Arch, Draught Surveys) yet least controllable, because of water conditions and accessibility, is the reading of the draught marks. The draught marks are stencilled at six positions on the vessel’s hull (forward/bow port and starboard, midship port and starboard, aft/stern port, and starboard).

These number stencils (usually in metres) are normally 10cm tall with 10cm space between each number. The numbers are usually in equal numerical stencils (2, 4, 6, 8 then the next metre number). As the water touches the bottom of the number 4 (using 4 as an example), the reading is 40cm, the middle of the 4 would be 45cm and the top would 50cm. Between 50 (top of the 4) and 60 (bottom of the 6), the surveyor has to make a visual judgment call. As in all surveys, the reading of the draught marks visually are judgmental calls. So, add in high swells, waves, chop, ice, obstruction, non-accessible points, and now you have guesstimations.

On bulk vessels of Handy and Panamax size, the vessel’s average in TPC (tonnes per centimetre) is approximately 50–65. So, this means that the distance in Draught from the bottom of the Draught Mark stencilled number to the top (10-cm) represents up to 650 tons.

Even in a light chop, there are 600–700 tonnes of possible error, noted in the photo at the bottom of p48. One could only imagine the judgment in 0.5 to 1m swells.

Or trying to read these in the dark of night, from a crew boat from a distance, or in heavy current. Because of anchors, buoys, and swift water, what we can see in the photo is as close as the launch boat can safely get.

And while one is riding around the vessel obtaining draughts, the remainder of the survey (ballast, voids, fuel, etc.) is out of the surveyor’s reach or control.

I once sent the photo at the top of p48 to a customer and said, “tell me where the water is and I’ll tell you what your tonnage

The Vessel Draught Survey consists of two parts, open and close, or light and heavy. The difference in water displaced between the two equals the quantity of cargo loaded (with adjustments made for ballast, bunkers, etc.). No matter the condition of the water which the vessel is sitting in, the show must go on. Time is always an issue with a vessel, and time is money. The draughts must be read, and from that, the calculations are made and the BOL (Bill of Lading) and Mates Receipt are set. Buyers and sellers trade on this number.

Many draught marks on the bow, stern, and offshore side are not accessible. I asked each of these guys in the first photo in this article (p47), what they had (without them saying out loud) and there was a large variance between each of their findings, and this was in calm water.

Try reading that draught from many metres away, looking down on it. The photograph below shows the vantage point for the guys in the first photo in this article.

Or try getting an accurate mid-ship draught, one of the most important readings of the survey, from the vantage point in swells (see photo, below).

Once the vessel is loaded, no matter what water conditions it’s loaded in, the vessel is to carry and deliver the BOL quantity (created by the Vessel Draught Survey). The seller sold the amount, the buyer bought the amount, and the vessel is paid freight on the amount. In many cases, the parties trading paper have no idea how the numbers were derived.

I guess this is why so many vessels now have a standard clause in their documents stating that they cannot guarantee the accuracy of the agreed-upon tonnage listed (verbiage differs, but generally states). It is stated that in optimal conditions, Vessel Draught Surveys are subject to 0.5% variances.

Now, as the vessel arrives for delivery, it is the position of the vessel to make sure that the arrival vessel draught survey matches the departure draught survey within close tolerances. If the cargo is delivered into a warehouse and the warehouse is not emptied and zeroed out immediately after the delivery, a loss/gain of cargo can’t be attributed to a certain vessel. In many cases, the tonnage on the ‘paper trail’ is kept in close tolerances, regardless of the cargo aboard or delivered. In some cases, common cargo warehouses may take more than a year (and many vessel deliveries) to zero out all cargo. In a case where a vessel delivers to another vessel or onto barges, there is an instant check and balance, a shortage or overage is noticed immediately. On an overage, you will not hear a peep, but on a shortage you, as the receiver surveyor are looked at as if you are responsible for the shortage, just for being the messenger of bad news. In my opinion, shortages outweigh overages manyfold, due to the vessel wanting to err on the side of caution to not exceed destination arrival draught restriction requirements, or carry cargo which they will not get freight. In most cases, the source of the problem can be attributed to the conditions of the water surface at the load port, yet is hidden in a paper trail.

How could this issue be eliminated? And is there a more accurate way to read the draughts? Well, devices have been made (such as freeboard indicators) but are not practical in all water, wave, and current applications. Years ago I invented such a device, which worked very well, but it would have to be attached to the hull at
the draught marks, which is not practical and can’t always be achieved. As I would say, when it is needed (in heavy sea swells and fast current) it couldn’t be used, and when it could be used (in perfectly calm water conditions) it is not needed. The one thing that keeps echoing in my mind is a hole in the ship (aka ‘The Zounding Tube’, named after the one who keeps thinking of it).

Having a sounding tube in the mid-ship point of the vessel (on a new build), or one port and one starboard, mid-ship, on a retrofit, through an existing ballast tank, which would go from keel to deck. With this, trim and list would not affect the readings because of their central location. In a perfect world, three tubes (one forward, mid and aft) could be added, to adust for hog and sag. A chart could be applied so that an ullage/outage could be taken (from a fixed given point to the water within the tube/pipe) and converted to draught. This draught reading would not be affected by waves, swells, etc., due to hydraulic pressure and the fact that water is calm below the surface. Accuracy could be achieved. I have always asked myself if this is possible and would it work?

Technologies have changed dramatically over the last 45 years — but the extremely important issue of vessel draught surveys have been largely left behind. The safe carriage of cargo is the vessel’s first concern, and it should be, but tonnage accountability is also very important. When I started 45 years ago, the older guys were still hauling adding machines onboard vessels to do their calculations, then calculators, and now computers. Liquid and gas cargo vessels (for years) now use sonar, radar, and level gauges for cargo readings. Zounding tubes could be equipped with radar which could send accurate draughts back to the cargo control room, for continuous accurate tonnage monitoring. And of course, safety remains paramount. All this could be done on the deck of the vessel, rather than hanging off the sides or in a crew boat in traffic and current.

At this point, I would have to leave the idea with naval architects and Class Societies, vessel designers and builders, as I am not well versed in the stress and build-out of vessels. One would think that as a proof of concept, a simple temporary test could be performed using a PVC pipe on the outer hull at mid-ship to compare reading accuracy. I guess as one works a lifetime at his/her craft, they hope to leave it better than they found it and also hope to leave their mark, as did Plimsoll in 1876.

I do know that billions of dollars are traded based on Vessel Draught Surveys, which are subject to accuracy by the water which the vessel lays afloat.



Born in August of 1958, one of six children of a working class family, for Larry ‘Chris’ Zeringue, the old cliche of “born and raised on banks of the Mississippi River” could not be more true.

With his homes from birth to manhood being only yards from the river’s edge in the small town of Donaldsonville Louisiana — (all homesteads in a settlement called Smoke Bend).

The Mighty Mississippi became Chris’s playground as a child, passion as a young man and gateway to the world as an adult.

By the age of 17, Chris was working on the river — his passion and pride for his work were only outpaced by his energy levels and tireless efforts as a hard worker and businessman.

After many years of working on the river, in 1993 Zeringue founded and coowned Marine Technical Surveyors (with two other seasoned surveyors).

Zeringue worked day and night as a river rat and in suit and tie to see MTS to what it is today. MTS employs and has employed many great people, family and friends, over the past 28 years.

And like the waters of the river, and so many of its southbound vessels, Zeringue too would see his way across the world to many major ports.

Zeringue pursued that same passion on the behalf of his customers — representing their cargo and their reputations in numerous ports in countless countries.

The Zounding tube is only one of many ideas that Zeringue has arrived at in his efforts to better represent the most accurate accounts of cargo.

For Zeringue, it is not the recognition of an invention that bring his ideas to life — but rather the pride, passion and energy he takes and puts forth in the responsibility of accounting for another’s goods.


Australia Shipping & Trade Insights – What is Really Going on Down Under?

The global shipping industry is in a state of flux – unprecedented congestion, delays and unfeasible freight prices have caused chaos beyond anticipation. The entire sector is fraught with uncertainty, with lockdowns and border closures bringing national economies to a grinding halt. The global pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of shipping – everything from large-scale shipping line contracts down to the price of a single freight container.

Australia is no exception. Whilst a smaller market, the shipping industry in the land down under has certainly felt the colossal impact of COVID-19 over the past 12 months. The country continues to battle against some of the most challenging market conditions we have ever had to face, with few signs of normality returning in the near future.

Freight forwarder and licensed customs broker, International Cargo Express (ICE), has felt the impact strongly in Australia. The industry challenges were described as ‘unprecedented’ by the company with over 30 years of experience. Below, they share their reflections on the past 12 months and provide some insight into what the future might look like.

COVID-19 hits Australia

When the global pandemic hit Australia and the world in early 2020, the shipping industry was woefully unprepared.

Demand for shipping services dropped dramatically and carriers introduced numerous blank sailings from Asia to Australia, Europe, and the United States. Lockdowns in China were a major contributing factor to this. There was an increase of 435 blank sailings in mid-April, with the three main shipping alliances showing a 17-24% blank rate across the first 15-21 weeks of the year, according to Analyst Sea Intelligence. Maersk alone issued over 90 blank sailings in Q1 2020, indicating a 3.5% fall in capacity for that period.

As soon as the lockdowns in China eased, the demand from Asia, especially from China to Australia, U.S. and Europe suddenly increased (particularly due to a massive demand for face masks, hand sanitizer, and PPE) – leading to congestion at several ports around the world, including at important transshipment hubs in Asia. Carriers started to increase their rates on a monthly basis and additional surcharges were implemented (such as PSS & Equipment Imbalance Fees), but the situation became tense as insufficient empty containers were returning to Europe or Asia – leading to a global container shortage.

Simultaneously, we were confronted with vessel quarantines, lockdowns, and slow operations. The Australian Government implemented a raft of restrictive border measures, closing the border to all non-Australian citizens and residents. To make matters more complicated, each State and Territory put in place their own local maritime restrictions.

A more detailed look into each aspect of how the shipping industry has been impacted over the past year is provided next.

Constrained capacity and rising freight prices

The combination of increased blank sailings and a sudden increased demand in shipping resulted in many ocean carriers and airlines suffering from constrained capacity.

Shippers would constantly find that there was no room for their cargo on freight vessels, leading to expensive delays and major disruption to their business operations. There was a rise in rolled cargo despite ocean carriers trying to provide as much capacity as possible. Maersk’s rollover ratio increased to as high as 35% in October 2020, according to Ocean Insights. Even as recent as February 2021, Australian meat exporters are reporting 10-day delays to secure the right containers for their shipments.

Things were worse in the air. Agricultural exporters in Australia were substantially affected as passenger air fleets were grounded. With retail air travel virtually ceasing, air cargo capacity fell by 91%.

With the extreme drop in air cargo capacity, air freight prices – especially to and from China – spiked to unprecedented levels. Some shippers have reported the cost of shipments doubling due to rising air freight costs and worst of all, there is no real sign of a significant change ahead.

Surge in container demand: the global container shortage

The sharp, unexpected increase in demand for imports led to a significant rise in container demand at origin ports. There simply aren’t enough containers around – leading to an international container shortage of which Australian importers are still feeling the pinch.

Why has this happened? It’s a combination of factors.

Australia has a largely imbalanced container trade, with more full containers entering the country than empty containers leaving. Couple this with the rise in port congestion caused by the sudden increase in demand, in addition to the industrial action in Sydney (discussed below) and blank sailings, and the ultimate result is that not enough empty equipment is being repositioned back to critical origin ports.

The COVID landscape has made the situation considerably worse.  A demanding peak season with a significant rise in imports, alongside the impacts of the pandemic, has left ports unable to cope with the influx of containers. There are an abundance of exports coming out of China, leading to a huge number of empty containers piling up in Australia, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne. We’re now finding a lack of available slots at the empty parks and queues beyond our expectations.

‘Container parks’ in places like Port Botany and the Port of Melbourne are reaching capacity. Struggling carrier capacity has meant empty containers have been left behind, with Port Botany alone suffering an imbalance of over 30,000 TEU since April 2020 of imported containers compared to exported containers. Empty containers once unloaded cannot be de-hired due to the lack of space at container parks and are rather redirected elsewhere – all this coming with added costs to the importer. These empty containers might usually be carried back to China, but the constrained capacity with shipping lines and reduced time allocation for loading at the ports has meant this simply cannot happen.

This is a global problem. Market intelligence states there are about approximately 50,000 containers stuck in Australia, around 35,000 containers in South America, 150,000 in the United States, plus containers are stuck on board of vessels at anchor in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California.

So, with all these empty containers just sitting idle, why is there a container shortage? The short answer is a trade imbalance – we are importing much more than we are exporting. But it is not a simple solution. With already constrained container capacity, shipping lines prefer to transport full containers rather than empty ones (despite many ‘sweeper’ vessels deployed to export empty containers). The operational costs of managing empty containers are high, but the profit margins to deal with them are slim.

Industrial action and trade unions

To make things worse, Australia has experienced a wave of industrial action at a time where importing was already at its most challenging. Trade unions have been negotiating the terms of new enterprise agreements with major Australian port players such as DP World and the Patrick Corporation. The bargaining deadlock has caused port workers to stop work across multiple terminals in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle – leading, of course, to increased delays and port congestion.

Across September 2020, for instance, Sydney saw major disruptions due to industrial action at Port Botany – including bans on overtime. Industrial action reduced Patrick Terminals’ operations in Sydney to around 50-60% of usual levels, with a backlog of 90,000 containers. In Melbourne, the union had orchestrated three one-hour stoppages a day. Despite industrial action stopping in October, major delays lingered in the aftermath.

In mid-February 2021, the MUA were once again planning major strikes at the Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) in Melbourne. This began on 19 February and involved a series of 12-hour stoppages of work. This would have once again been detrimental to Australian supply chains if the action proceeded as planned.

For now, the industrial action at VICT has been suspended. DP World also announced that it has finalized negotiations with the union after two and a half years of bargaining, concluding agreements in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Fremantle until 2023.

Industrial action continues to be a pressing issue for importers, exporters, shippers, and ports across Australia, leading to ongoing uncertainty across entire supply chains.

Ever-surmounting stevedore charges

A wave of increased infrastructure charges have also been introduced, adding to frustration for both shipping companies and Australian businesses. In July 2020, for instance, Hutchison Ports increased its charges on containers delivered to and from its facility in Brisbane by 9%. VICT in Melbourne also imposed a 7% increase in their charges. Despite container volumes dropping, total operating profit margins for stevedores increased for the first time in a decade, from 5.8% in 2018-19 to 9.9% in 2019-20.

The hike in stevedore fees was vigorously criticized by governments. The Victorian Department of Transport said the decision was “completely unacceptable – especially at a time when everyone should be pulling together to keep businesses open, Victorians in jobs and goods moving across our supply chain”. Indeed, these charges effectively hold transport operators to ransom, forcing them into a non-negotiable position whereby they must pay to collect and deliver containers.

Scaling stevedore charges were then followed by shipping line charges. Around September 2020, shipping companies imposed port congestion charges of up to US$350 per TEU. Shipping line MSC announced a US$300 per TEU Sydney port congestion surcharge, whilst CMA CGM’s ANL announced an equivalent surcharge. As a result, grain exporters, for example, needed to absorb an extra AU$17 per tonne of direct costs. Thankfully announcements were finally made in early March for the removal of congestion surcharges, a promising direction in a challenging landscape.

Government intervention – it can only do so much

The Federal Government has made efforts to assist the industry. In April 2020 the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) was introduced.

IFAM is a temporary measure aiming to reconnect supply chains, supporting the import of medical supplies and other nationally critical products. The agricultural, seafood and healthcare sectors are particularly targeted industries. The scheme received an extra $317.1 million in funding in October 2020 to extend the scheme until mid-2021.

But government intervention can only do so much.

Without a full-scale, nationally co-ordinated response to tackling key issues, such as; constrained carrier capacity, the massive costs of air freight, the unprecedented container shortage, the insufficient infrastructure to cope with imbalanced imports and exports, unpredictable industrial action across the supply chain and rising stevedore and shipping line surcharges, Australian businesses and consumers will be subject to ongoing hardship.

Conclusion – where to from here?

As we look to 2021, the world awaits the results of the COVID-19 vaccine which will no doubt have a dramatic impact on the industry and markets. The Federal Government has entered into contracts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine from March, having secured 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and just under 54 million doses of the University of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

At International Cargo Express, we’re encouraging clients to turn to ‘air-sea solutions’ (a combination of both quick air freight, and affordable ocean freight) as an alternative to just shipping goods by air. But until we can tilt the scales to introduce more air freight to the market in line with historical prices, the increased demand for ocean freight will continue. In more recent weeks we have received positive news as freight rates from China have slowly started to decrease, and the removal of port congestion surcharges in Sydney has been warmly welcomed.

However, until the market fully resets, we could be in for a volatile couple of years. The only solution is to adapt and think of creative alternatives in our ‘new normal’. There is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to surviving, and ultimately thriving, in a post-COVID environment.


This article was written by Alice Farley, Branch Manager and Head of Marketing of the Australian freight forwarder International Cargo Express. If you are looking to move goods internationally, contact ICE to ensure you don’t face unexpected delays and costs.



In our most recent edition of Dispatches, CMA CGM Group takes efforts in improving sustainable operations by designating a part of its shipping fleet to the U.S. market for use around the end of the year 2022.

Rodolphe Saadé, chairman and CEO of CMA CGM Group, announced in late February that he would dedicate six liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered containerships to the U.S. market as part of the global logistics company’s ongoing efforts to improve air quality and drive forward the energy transition of the shipping industry. Saadé made the announcement at the opening session of TPM,  which is the premier conference for the trans-Pacific and global container shipping and logistics community.

The first of these new vessels is scheduled to be delivered this October, and all ships will be fully operational by the end of 2022, according to CMA CGM. The six 15,000-TEU vessels will be deployed on CMA CGM’s Pearl River Express (PRX) line, which sails from China to the Port of Los Angeles. 

CMA CGM Group currently operates 12  of the LNG-powered containerships, a fleet that will grow to 32 containerships of various sizes by the year 2022, according to the logistics giant, which has an ambitious 2050 objective of carbon neutrality.

IMO 2020


The shipping industry has experienced one heck of year since IMO 2020 took effect. Looking back, it is reasonable to state that ocean shippers were focused solely on ensuring compliance was achieved to meet the new standards in combating the emissions footprint. Outlined in our article from last year, the issue of cleaning bunker fuels for the first time paired with the contractual challenges presented by the regulation posed new sets of challenges to be met–and quickly.

Fast-forward to mid-2020, and shippers found themselves in a completely overturned economic situation due to the pandemic. Capacity restraints, shutdowns and cost fluctuations were beyond what any industry could have predicted for 2020. When the impact of the pandemic was truly felt for shippers in mid-March, IMO 2020 compliance quickly became a backburner concern, due in part to proactive preparations in meeting regulations and identifying how the industry would overcome the new disruption. This “new normal” forced changes in forecasting and management on a new level. 

Global Trade Magazine talked with Carmen Gerace, BDP International’s chief transportation officer, about the state of the ocean shipping sector and how IMO 2020 in conjunction with the pandemic shifted operations. BDP International is one of the world’s leading, privately held freight logistics and transportation management firms.

“Most of our clients, at this stage, have really done a superb job at meeting compliance standards for IMO 2020 and reducing the carbon footprint,” Gerace says. “Interestingly enough, IMO 2020 got pushed back to mid-March at the onset of the pandemic with everything shutting down. Our clients had a year to prepare for IMO 2020 and they prepared well and were ready to go. Places like Freight 4 did not contribute to the current chaos of the ocean situation we have today. Industry players were prepared and ready, then everything else hit, and it went from there. That’s where we sit today.” 

Aside from COVID-19, reducing emissions has been a success for most of the industry, according to Gerace. Despite setbacks and delays, shippers were responsive to the call of IMO 2020, contributing to the overall reduction in emissions output and preparing vessels accordingly. 

“The risk of non-compliance simply could not be afforded by ocean line providers,” Gerace says. “New builds, scrubbers, retrofitting and the undertaking that they had to put forth to achieve this had to be pushed back; however, it has been a success thus far. Additionally, the threat of ships being restricted to berthing into ports pushed compliance efforts even more. Ocean carriers simply could not afford that risk.”

For 2021, the industry will have COVID disruptions to manage. From ensuring the safety of employees to accurate forecasting, it is critical for ocean liners to predict market fluctuations to keep costs and operations at optimal levels. With April just a couple of months away, shippers will have new rates to consider, as the expiration for current rates is on the horizon with the potential spike in air freight to transport the COVID vaccine. How these fluctuations are handled is a matter of timely forecasting and proactive measures now to ensure success for the next year and beyond. 

“COVID recovery remains the largest challenge for shippers currently,” Gerace says. “This, paired with the potential increased concentration of the air freight markets due to the demand in transporting the vaccine, will undoubtedly present problems. As we anticipate an influx in vaccine transportation demand, it is important to remember that air-cargo capacity has its limitations, and this could create an attractive opportunity for ocean shipping. 

“The downside to this is increasing capacity on the ocean side, becoming more backed up than it already is. Once that occurs, costs are at the top of mind. Costs are up roughly 170 percent compared to where things were this time last year. This will not go down within the first four months of 2021 and quite frankly, it will never go back to where it was. It is going to come down again at some point, but the question is, when? Some predict May, some predict June.” 

Gerace notes that the industry relies heavily on the transpacific eastbound market, and all those rates expire by the end of April. 

“It is critical for the industry to get freight ready for 2021 and the beginning of 2022,” he says. “Cargo carriers, BCOs, etc. must work on their budgets and operations anticipating this. The question is, how much have they taken into play that the first four months of 2021 could very well be as bad as all of 2020 from the cost perspective?”

At this point, maintaining compliance efforts and efficiencies are on the backburner for industry players. What is more of a concern comes in the form of accurate predictions, cost management and proactive preparations based on these forecasts–predicting market challenges related to COVID, and how that will trickle down to shippers’ bottom lines. BDP takes these factors into account for their clients, encouraging forecasting to ensure the timely allocation of resources, space and equipment, which Gerace characterizes as critical in these times. The more a customer can forecast out, he says, the better off BDP can align with partners to quickly and effectively reserve resources needed for success. 

“BDP has different options for customers from LCL cargo to sea-air, air freight, chartering and more,” he explains. “We look at anything else our customers’ ask us to do. Operations come at a cost and sometimes sticker shock is a challenge, which we understand. Our goal is to continue to provide weekly options and provide information on port capacity, which ports are running on time, where there is an equipment surplus, and where deficits are a concern, so customers can plan how long of a delay to expect. This all goes back to forecasting. Forecasting is key for everybody, especially in the current market. The further out the shipper can forecast, the better. This is critical because space and rates are at premiums and will remain this way in the future. Everybody is backed up.”

The industry has survived one of the most intense years for disruption. With compliance a non-issue, shippers will be tested on a new level in preparing for the future. As we enter 2021, partner relationships will be critical in maintaining to ensure the best options for continued operations are available. The hope from the COVID vaccine will present its own set of challenges, but with the right partner they can be managed. 


As BDP International’s chief transportation officer, Carmen Gerace oversees all aspects of global transportation, including the implementation of new transport solutions and product offerings while also developing future transport strategy. Throughout his 25-year+ career in the industry, he has held varying managerial and executive positions at BDP. He is based in Philadelphia and can be reached at


5 Port Applications You May Be Surprised Can Run on Propane

In order to keep pace with international shipping activity in ports across the globe, crews need efficient, reliable material handling equipment. While there are several energy sources available to power port equipment, many are finding that propane can be a go-to fuel for a wide variety of port applications.

Propane has been a trusted engine fuel in the transportation sector for both on- and off-road vehicles for several decades, backed by the most trusted engine and fuel system manufacturers — including Power Solutions International, Agility, Origin, and Cummins, to name a few. Manufacturers are producing propane solutions in a variety of horsepower and applications, granting the versatility to tackle both land- and sea-side tasks.

Beyond its versatility to provide a port-wide energy solution, propane offers key advantages over other energy sources, like diesel and electric, in terms of emissions, air quality, and cost savings.

Here are five popular port applications that can run on propane:

1. Forklifts

When it comes to forklifts, people may first think of electric for low-emissions indoor operation or diesel for outdoor heavy lifting — but propane can do it all. In fact, propane is an ideal fuel for material handling. Propane-powered forklifts keep crews more productive because they don’t lose power throughout the workday and a fast, easy cylinder change gets them back in business quickly. Employees don’t have to worry about downtime for recharging, like with electric equipment.

Plus, unlike diesel, propane equipment can be safely operated indoors and outdoors, because of its clean, low-emissions profile. Propane forklifts beat electric equipment, too, when you take upstream, site-to-source emissions into account. Site-to-source emissions include those produced at power plants where electricity is generated — many of which are still coal-fired — as well as the emissions during transportation to the facility.

2. Port and Terminal Tractors

TICO Manufacturing recently launched a new propane terminal tractor powered by PSI’s emissions-certified 8.8-liter engine. TICO Pro-Spotter terminal tractors are widely used in distribution centers, rail terminals, and ports to move semi-trailers and shipping containers.

Propane autogas engines provide uncompromised power, performance, fuel efficiency, and flexibility to any user. Plus, according to data from the Argonne National Laboratory, propane autogas terminal tractors produce 12 percent fewer lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered terminal tractors.

3. Light-Duty Vehicles

Propane autogas can power a variety of light-duty vehicles including shuttle vans, trucks, and security vehicles. Light-duty fleet vehicles are available from major manufacturers — as both OEM-dedicated vehicles and EPA/CARB-certified aftermarket conversions.

Businesses of all sizes are looking to propane autogas for its cost savings and reduced emissions and ports shouldn’t be an exception. Propane autogas provides the lowest total cost-of-ownership of any fuel, in part because of its reliable performance and low costs for fuel, infrastructure, and maintenance. Plus, they are typically less expensive to purchase than electric and natural gas vehicles and they can save up to 50 percent on fuel costs compared to gasoline and diesel.

Propane autogas vehicles reduce NOx emissions by up to 36 percent compared to diesel vehicles, greenhouse gas emissions by up to 22 percent compared to gasoline vehicles, and up to 45 percent less particulate matter than electric vehicles throughout the full fuel cycle. And beyond its lowest total-cost-of ownership and reduced emissions, propane autogas vehicles also help crews eliminate downtime linked to maintenance and diesel repairs.

4. Medium-Duty Vehicles

Propane autogas delivery trucks are gaining popularity in other industries in which larger loads are moving from point A to point B and reliability is key. Take the food and beverage industry, for instance. Well respected companies like Nestle Waters and Schwan’s Home Service rely on Roush CleanTech medium-duty propane autogas vehicles for product deliveries. New technology is even allowing for larger refrigeration trucks to be powered by propane autogas, too. For example, Roush CleanTech recently displayed its 2019 F-750 refrigerated van at the 2020 NTEA Work Truck Show.

5. Shore Power

Beyond powering on- and off-road vehicles, propane can provide stationary and mobile power generation for port facilities, too. Shore power, which is sometimes referred to as cold-ironing or alternative marine power, is an effective way of reducing air emissions and improving local air quality. One way to provide ports with shore power is with commercial propane generators. By incorporating propane as a power solution, ports alleviate the need, and reliance, on grid-based shore power options.

As propane technology continues to evolve, it can provide port operations with a number of key advantages compared to other energy sources including increased energy efficiency, energy security and resiliency, cost savings, and the versatility to tackle a wide variety of applications.

Plus, crews don’t want to be bothered with multiple fuel types and energy sources to complete different types of jobs. Fortunately, propane can handle various load sizes, operate indoors or outside, and even operate on- or off-road and land- or sea-side. Visit to learn more about the power and versatility of propane.


Jeremy Wishart is director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at



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.