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Port of Long Beach Secures $300 Million for Major Green Infrastructure Projects

global trade port of long beach

Port of Long Beach Secures $300 Million for Major Green Infrastructure Projects

The Port of Long Beach has been awarded $283 million from the federal government to support the development of ‘America’s Green Gateway,’ a project designed to enhance cargo capacity via rail, expedite deliveries nationwide, alleviate congestion, and mitigate local environmental impacts.

Read also: St. Louis Based Tech Firm Partners With Port Of Long Beach to Create a Supply Chain Information Highway

This significant funding, provided through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Mega Grant Program, will be directed towards the port’s Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility. Valued at $1.567 billion, this facility is the cornerstone of the port’s on-dock rail improvement initiative. By facilitating the direct movement of containers to and from marine terminals by train, the on-dock rail system aims to reduce truck traffic, thus offering a cleaner and more efficient cargo transport solution. Once operational, the new facility will eliminate the need for cargo trucks, instead using smaller train segments that will be assembled into full-sized trains at the facility.

Given the critical role of the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility in the national supply chain, the Port of Long Beach continues to seek additional funding partners. In July 2023, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced a $158 million grant from the Port and Freight Infrastructure Program to support the Pier B project, reinforcing its importance to the state’s cargo movement strategy. Previously, the federal government had allocated nearly $105 million to the project. To date, the port has secured over $640 million in grant funding for Pier B.

Construction of the new facility is set to begin next year. The project will expand the existing Pier B rail yard from 82 acres to 171 acres and will increase the port’s on-dock rail cargo capacity from 1.5 million TEU to 4.7 million TEU annually. Additionally, the yard will include a depot capable of fueling and servicing up to 30 locomotives simultaneously and a full-service staging area for assembling and disassembling trains up to 10,000 feet long. The overall project will be executed in phases, each designed to enhance cargo flow, with completion anticipated by 2032.

“Reliable and efficient transportation of goods is crucial for keeping our economy thriving while protecting the air we breathe,” stated U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. “The Port of Long Beach is a leading international hub for cargo transport, and this project will reduce truck emissions while promoting economic growth and efficiency. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are strengthening our supply chain, creating jobs, and improving air quality in near-port communities across the region.”

Mario Cordero, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Long Beach, highlighted the transformative impact of the funding, saying, “This facility will enhance the efficiency of cargo movement to homes and businesses across America and from U.S. producers to international markets, delivering systemwide benefits to the supply chain. We are grateful to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Senator Alex Padilla, and Congressman Robert Garcia for recognizing the significance of this project and making a substantial investment in sustainable, efficient cargo transport.”

Earlier this year, the Port of Long Beach took significant steps towards a sustainable future by upgrading its rail infrastructure and improving air quality, laying the groundwork for this landmark project.

forwarding corridor

Port of Long Beach Joins the Green Shipping Corridor

Partnership aims to decarbonize U.S.-Asia trade route by 2030

The Port of Long Beach has signed on to the Shanghai-Los Angeles Green Shipping Corridor, a partnership of C40 Cities, ports, shipping companies and cargo owners convened to create a zero-emissions trans-Pacific trade route.

First announced in January by C40 Cities, the ports of Shanghai and Los Angeles, and key maritime stakeholders, this Green Shipping Corridor will be a big step toward decarbonizing shipping between the busiest ports in China and the United States. C40 Cities is a network of the world’s leading cities that are working to deliver the urgent action needed to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive.

The partnership intends to work together to achieve these goals by developing a “Green Shipping Corridor Implementation Plan” by the end of 2022 that will include deliverables, goals and interim milestones, and roles for participants.

Key decarbonization goals for the Green Shipping Corridor partnership include:

  • The phasing in of low, ultra-low, and zero-carbon fueled ships through the 2020s with the world’s first zero-carbon trans-Pacific container ships introduced by 2030 by qualified and willing shipping lines.
  • The development of best management practices to help reduce emissions and improve efficiency for all ships using this international trade corridor.
  • Reducing supply chain emissions from port operations, and improving air quality in the ports of Shanghai, Los Angeles and Long Beach, and adjacent communities.

For more information about the Port of Long Beach’s environmental programs, visit www.polb.com/environment.

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s premier seaports, a gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a trailblazer in goods movement and environmental stewardship. As the second-busiest container seaport in the United States, the Port handles trade valued at more than $200 billion annually and supports 2.6 million trade-related jobs across the nation, including 575,000 in Southern California.

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One-Stop Help For Trucker Days Set For May 24-26 – Multiagency, In-Person Event to Assist Drivers Seeking Port Access

Truck drivers and others seeking clearances to access the San Pedro Bay port complex can sign up for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, the Clean Truck Program and other official programs at a convenient, one-stop event designed to provide help for truckers at the Port of Long Beach from May 24-26.

Drivers also will be able to sign up for radio frequency identification tags that are needed in the port complex and for the Port of Long Beach’s Truck Alert notification system, which provides real-time text message updates on traffic issues in the Harbor District.

The Port of Long Beach is hosting the event in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration and the identity certification company IDEMIA.

“Truck drivers are an essential link in the supply chain and we want to give them every opportunity to obtain access to the Port,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “Our collaboration with the TSA and IDEMIA will help truckers move cargo more quickly through the Port.”

“We’re happy to accommodate the trucking community by bringing the registration process directly to the Port,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal. “We hope this event provides a convenient and easy way to get the clearances they need.”

The “four-in-one” event is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday, May 24-26, at the Port of Long Beach Terminal Access Center, 1265 Harbor Ave., Long Beach (southwest corner of Harbor Avenue and West Anaheim Street). Free tacos will be available to participants from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, while supplies last.

TWIC appointments and pre-enrollment are available at universalenroll.dhs.gov/programs/twic. Click New Enrollment, complete the information and in Step 9 – Select Appointment Location, choose “Pop Up: Port of Long Beach, 5/24-5/26.”

For questions and appointments regarding Clean Truck Program registration and RFID, call 866-721-5686 or email cleantrucks@polb.com.

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s premier seaports, a gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a trailblazer in goods movement and environmental stewardship. As the second-busiest container seaport in the United States, the Port handles trade valued at more than $200 billion annually and supports 2.6 million trade-related jobs across the nation, including 575,000 in Southern California.

global trade port of long beach

PORT OF LONG BEACH PLAYS THE LONG GAME

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. 

ports

EXPANSION ALONE MAY NOT BE ENOUGH AS BUSY PORTS EYE SMARTER GROWTH

A sharp increase in container cargo in the second half of 2020 and into the early months of this year has proven to be a pleasant surprise for several U.S. ports. But even prior to the impacts of COVID-19 on container cargo, many ports were already dealing with substantial growth and operational success. “Deeper, wider, bigger” has been the theme as ports and terminals spent and continue to spend billions of dollars to capture greater market share.

So, is “deeper, wider, bigger” the secret to growing the container business?

“There really is no secret,” says Joe Harris, spokesman for the Port of Virginia, who adds that his home facility “offers a modern, technologically advanced port run by a team of experienced professionals. We focus on customer service, efficiency and providing a predictable experience to our customers–the ocean carriers–and the cargo owners choosing to move their goods over our terminals. Those things, combined with a long-term plan of strategic infrastructure investments that is shared with the port’s users, are vital to our future.” 

From 2014 through 2024, the Port of Virginia will have invested nearly $1.5 billion in modernization. This includes expanding annual TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) throughput capacity by 1 million units and deepening and widening commercial channels to make Virginia the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast. 

“The strategy is to leverage these investments to grow volume, expand market share, build our competitiveness and continue to be a catalyst for economic investment and job creation in Virginia for decades to come,” Harris said. 

Supporting the strategy is a team of professionals across the world, including the U.S., representing the port. These professionals are continually engaged in driving business to Virginia, according to Harris. “They are supported by a business analytics team that is helping to identify emerging markets, new industries, expansion among beneficial cargo owners and ocean carriers,” he adds. 

Port Tampa Bay has also witnessed a strong uptick in container cargo.

“Our container business increased by 33 percent last fiscal year and is up another 43 percent in the most recent quarter,” says Wade Elliott, the port’s vice president of Business Development. “The primary driver is the continued rapid growth of the Florida market, which was the second-fastest-growing state by population last year.”

The Tampa Bay/Orlando I-4 Corridor region, home to Florida’s largest concentration of distribution centers with close to 400-million square feet of space, “was already one of the hottest industrial real estate markets in the U.S. pre-COVID-19,” Elliott notes.

“New container service connections from Asia, and more recently Mexico, have helped facilitate this increased business,” he says, “and the port’s close proximity to these distribution centers allows importers and exporters to make multiple round-trip deliveries per day, resulting in significant savings in trucking and supply chain costs.”

To keep pace with the growth, there is a need to develop more infrastructure.

“Port Tampa Bay recently completed 25 acres of additional paved storage, bringing the total container terminal footprint to 67 acres with plans to add another 30 acres,” Elliott said. “Work has also begun on a third berth which will bring the total to over 4,500 linear feet, allowing three large ships to be worked at the same time. Construction is also about to start on a new container gate complex and the bid process has begun to acquire two, additional gantry cranes,” Elliott concluded.

The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) saw container volumes rebound up by 5 percent year-to-date in FY21 (Fiscal Year) which began in October. Nearly 353,400 TEUs moved through JAXPORT during the first quarter of FY21, making it one of the port’s busiest first quarters on record for container volumes.

“Location and efficiency are both central to JAXPORT’s success throughout our various trade lanes and business lines,” says Robert Peek, JAXPORT’s general manager of Business Development. “JAXPORT is located in the heart of the southeast U.S. and offers fast access to 70 million consumers within a day’s drive.”

Historically, Puerto Rico has been JAXPORT’s largest trading partner, accounting for about half of all JAXPORT’s containerized volumes, but Jacksonville has been actively pursuing new business.

“Today, container shipping lines service additional Caribbean islands through JAXPORT, as well as Central and South America,” Peek added. “JAXPORT also offers robust container vessel service with China and countries throughout Asia.” 

With the benefits of congestion-free terminals and infrastructure enhancements, anchored by a harbor deepening project, JAXPORT will “continue to work to grow our offerings in the trans-Atlantic and African trade lanes as well,” Peek said.

With Jacksonville also in the “deeper, wider, bigger” mode, its infrastructure projects will support its growth plans.

“The federal project to deepen the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 feet from its current depth of 40 feet will be completed through our Blount Island Marine Terminal in 2022,” Peek said. “Harbor deepening is JAXPORT’s single biggest growth initiative and positions us as a port of choice for the increasingly larger container ships calling the U.S. East Coast.”

More than $200 million in terminal enhancements are also underway at the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal at Blount Island. “These enhancements include phased yard improvements to allow the facility to accommodate more containers, berth enhancements to enable the terminal to simultaneously accommodate two post-Panamax vessels and the addition of three additional state-of-the-art, eco-friendly container cranes, bringing the facility’s total to six,” Peek added.

California’s Port of Long Beach is a leading gateway on America’s most important trade route, the trans-Pacific, and it offers the fastest and shortest route between Asia and the United States.

“We offer more connections to interstate highways and national rail lines, along with access to 2 billion square feet of warehouse space in the region,” says port Executive Director Mario Cordero.

In 2020, Long Beach handled more than 8.1 million TEUs, the best year in its history “and to start off 2021, we’ve had our best January and February on record,” Cordero adds.

The port sees growth opportunities in markets such as Southeast Asia as well as Latin America, and eventually Long Beach would also like to see a resurgence in U.S. exports, Cordero says.

Capital improvement projects are crucial to maintaining successful and growing operations. Cordero says the port is completing “the world’s most advanced container terminal at Middle Harbor,” known as Long Beach Container Terminal.

Slated for completion later this year, this automated terminal will have 14 ship-to-shore, dual-lift cranes. Six of the cranes will be big enough to handle a 22,000 TEU ship. There will be 70 stacking cranes and 72 automated guided vehicles (AGV) at full build-out, adding an annual capacity of 3.3 million TEUs.

“In 2021, planned capital expenditures of $379 million account for 58 percent of our spending,” Cordero says. “Over the next 10 years, the port will invest $1.7 billion in infrastructure and $1 billion of that is for the development of the port’s on-dock rail capacity.”

Not surprisingly, the growth of the container business has spurred innovation in other aspects of the industry. 

California-based Blume Global, for example, has co-developed with Fenix Marine Services (FMS), a marine terminal operator at the Port of Los Angeles, a technology platform to add efficiencies to container movement. 

“This service doesn’t simply help the terminal operate more efficiently, the entire port ecosystem (ocean carrier, rail carriers, motor carriers, labor interests, logistics service providers, beneficial cargo owners) gains an advantage,” says Lincoln Pei, account manager, Blume Global. “When containers flow quickly through port complexes and marine terminals, vessel berth and rail car capacity are optimized, gate transactions are timelier, and dray carrier wait times are reduced, among other improvements,” he says.

ports

HOW ROLL ON/ROLL OFF PORTS RESPONDED TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on global shipping. One of the categories hit worst was roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro). These ships, which revolutionized the transport of automotive and military vehicles, often found themselves with nowhere to go as automakers shut down their plants in the first half of 2020 to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Figures compiled by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)—and published in its report COVID-19 and Maritime Transport: Impact and Responses—show just how bleak the Ro/Ro sector got, with the ships stopping in five percent fewer ports in the first quarter of 2020 than the same quarter a year earlier, and nearly 25 percent in the second quarter.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted on Ro/Ro services,” states the UNCTAD report. “Since March 2020, port calls by Ro/Ro ships worldwide declined by 22.8 percent compared with the same period in 2019. One in four ship calls has been suspended. Total calls by Ro/Ro ships since the beginning of 2020 declined by 13.8 percent as compared with the same period in 2019.”

While those declines were bad, it’s also true that vehicle traffic rebounded in the latter half of the year. We looked at 10 U.S. ports that have Ro/Ro capability to see how bad the situation got before they recovered—and how they did it. All of these ports instituted special COVID-19 protocols at the start of the pandemic, and all have remained operational throughout the crisis.

BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA

Port officials say that in the spring of 2020, the closure of so many automakers dramatically lowered the number of automobiles entering Colonel’s Island Terminal. May 2020 saw the worst volume decrease—down 77 percent compared to May 2019.

The rebound started in June, though port officials say Ro/Ro traffic that month was still 38 percent below June 2019. July was better, in that it was only down 11 percent. By August, Ro/Ro traffic was actually up 9 percent, though September was flat. The rest of the year saw Ro/Ro traffic up 32 percent over the previous year; November down 16 percent, and December was 27 percent ahead of the same month in 2019.

For the year, Colonel’s Island terminal served 435 vessel calls in 2020, compared to 466 in 2019. Put another way, in 2020 the Port of Brunswick handled 587,395 units of Ro/Ro cargo, a decrease of 25,506 (4 percent) compared to 2019.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

The Port of Baltimore ranks “first among the nation’s ports for volume of autos and light trucks, roll on/roll off heavy farm and construction machinery, and imported gypsum,” according to the Maryland Port Administration. After sustained decreases in Ro/Ro traffic throughout the spring, December totals showed a triple-digit increase—the sixth consecutive month of increased compared to the first months of the pandemic, according to a Feb. 3, 2021, Maryland Port Administration news release. What’s more, December figures for general cargo, containers and Ro/Ro represent year-over-year monthly gains versus December of the previous year.

“Throughout the pandemic, the Port of Baltimore has been a barometer of Maryland’s economic recovery, and the latest figures give us great optimism for the new year,” Governor Larry Hogan said in the news release. “The port’s healthy rebound is an indicator of increased consumer demand, and we’ve proven we have the talented workforce and the infrastructure to answer that demand.”

By December 2020, 67,063 tons of Ro/Ro traffic moved through the Port of Baltimore—up nearly 36 percent from June. In fact, December was so good that Ro/Ro traffic was up 1 percent from the same month in 2019.

CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

In the spring of 2020, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo shut down auto plants in the South due to COVID-19. This cut Ro/Ro traffic into Charleston by a third, according to JOC.com. 

But by August, the numbers started to recover. “Among the encouraging signs that port officials highlighted was the highest July on record for vehicle movement through the port,” according to Aug. 20, 2020, post in The Maritime Executive. “The strength in the Ro/Ro sector they believe signifies a return to normalcy at automotive plants throughout South Carolina and the Southeast.”

Port officials are so encouraged that they see a stronger rebound throughout 2021.

“We are encouraged by some signs of an initial rebound in our container and automotive volumes, as well as an increase in imports and a decline in blanked sailings,” S.C. Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said in an Aug. 20, 2020, Maritime Executive post. “However, a more substantial recovery is dependent on the duration and intensity of the economic impacts from the pandemic, and ultimately, on a vaccine.”

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA

Like all U.S. ports, JAXPORT saw Ro/Ro traffic hit hard by the coronavirus. But the rebound in the summer and fall was strong. In fact, the last quarter of calendar year 2020 was “the second busiest quarter for vehicles in the port’s history,” according to a Feb. 11, 2021 JAXPORT news release.

Given that it’s one of the nation’s most diversified ports, and that means it’s “well-positioned to continue to see increased volumes to satisfy growing consumer demand in nearby markets throughout the Southeast, including South Florida, Orlando and the rest of the I-4 corridor,” said Alberto Cabrera, JAXPORT’s director of Automotive Accounts.

“An increase in U.S. military vehicle movements at the port helped to offset the industry-wide decline in commercial shipments due to the temporary shutdown of auto manufacturing over the summer caused by the coronavirus,” said Cabrera.

He adds that 2021 should be a “robust year” for emerging vehicle technology. “As manufacturers continue to rebound from the pandemic shutdowns, we will see the release of many new models with the advanced technology, including autonomous driving, steering assistance, and forward collision prevention, that consumers have been demanding,” Cabrera said. 

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

In late 2019, PhilaPort opened a giant new auto terminal and Vehicle Processing Center (VPC). “The VPC at Southport is capable of servicing 200 cars per hour and fully processing over 1,000 cars daily,” a PhilaPort news release said at the time. A few months later, the pandemic hit. After that, Ro/Ro traffic “was down, but not as much as the other Ro/Ro ports,” a PhilaPort spokesman said.

The port instituted new COVID-19 protocols, including closing the main administration offices in the early months of the pandemic. But by late September, the port reopened the offices. Today, the port is close to operating as usual—though with some adjustments. 

“This port handles almost 1 million tons of forest products in a normal year,” said Penn Warehousing and Distribution’s Tom Mutz in a Feb. 5, 2021, PhilaPort news release. “But COVID and new modes of consumer behavior have resulted in even greater amounts of forest products entering our port.”

GALVESTON, TEXAS

Port officials made clear that COVID-19 had very little impact on the operations at the Port of Galveston. That being said, the temporary closure of many auto plants did cause a significant slowdown in Ro/Ro traffic for much of 2020. You can see it in the numbers provided by port officials: The port moved 487,371 vehicles in 2019, but just 314,790 in 2020.

That said, port officials noted that other traffic at the port is strong. In fact, they report that the port saw 25 cargo vessels in January 2021—up considerably from the 19 that arrived in pre-pandemic January 2020. 

HUENEME, CALIFORNIA

For the Port of Hueneme, May and June of 2020 were the worst months of the pandemic for Ro/Ro traffic. During those months, Ro/Ro ship traffic dwindled almost to zero. Recovery finally came in the last quarter of 2020, which saw four to five Ro/Ro ships coming into port every week. 

But the damage had been done. In 2019, Ro/Ro ships moved 346,288 autos in and out of the Port of Hueneme, but just 282,164 in 2020—an 18.5 percent drop in a year. Overall tonnage dropped at the port 1.8 percent due to the pandemic. But so far, officials say Ro/Ro volume is still showing a strong recovery and is now 1 percent higher than the same period last year.

Port officials also say their own internal operations and communications plan worked very well in dealing with COVID-19 cases. In fact, they say the port saw just 19 reported COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. Currently, the port is working with local officials to prioritize the vaccinations cycles for their workforce.

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

For the first half of 2020, the Port of Virginia saw a significant drop in trade—due both to the COVID-19 pandemic and trade tariffs. But port officials are proud that throughout the crisis, the port has not lost a single-day of productivity. Despite the drop in traffic, the port instituted no layoffs or cuts in pay and benefits. Officials also noted that since the port was processing less cargo, efficiencies increased—dwell-time for rail imports, berth productivity and turn-times for motor carriers. The port also used the slow period to accelerate maintenance schedules for equipment and make operational tweaks.

By the end of the year, the Port of Virginia was actually setting records: The port processed more than 260,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in December, making it the best volume on record for that month. The port also set its all-time monthly volume record in November 2020 by handling more than 280,000 TEUs.

Today, Port of Virginia officials describe their Ro/Ro capabilities as “strong.” They expect a rebound in both automobiles and traditional Ro-Ro cargo in 2021, which they say they can accommodate at either their Newport News Marine Terminal or the Portsmouth Marine Terminal.

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA

Long lines of shipping traffic into the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are familiar to everyone within five miles of the Southern California coastline. Even in 2020, the traffic was considerable.

“Initially, the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the volume of containers flowing through the port, but the latter half of the year was very active as shippers worked to satisfy pent-up demand for goods,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “The Port of Long Beach had its best year on record in 2020, with 8,113,315 TEUs moved, up 6.3 percent from 2019. The port exceeded the previous annual record set in 2018 by 22,292 TEUs.”

But the same can’t be said for Ro/Ro ships. In fact, Ro/Ro data from the Port of Long Beach shows abysmal numbers: 302,811 vehicles in 2019, but just 239,135 in 2020.

To ensure that 2021 is good for all categories of shipping, Cordero is focusing on protecting his workforce.

“The nation’s waterfront workers have kept this country’s supply chain functioning since Day One of the pandemic, and they are at high risk,” Cordero said. “Prioritizing the waterfront workers for vaccination is of paramount importance, both for their safety, and for the sake of the economy. We are continuing to work with health officials to vaccinate essential workers, to maintain the fluidity of cargo movement.”

SEATTLE/TACOMA, WASHINGTON

The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), the operating entity behind the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, is the fourth largest container gateway in the United Sates. And the COVID-19 pandemic hit the NWSA hard across the board.

“Total container volumes in March were down approximately 21 percent as compared to March of 2019,” said John Wolfe, the NWSA CEO, according to an April 15, 2020, story in American Shipper. “That brings our year-to-date first-quarter decline to 15.4 percent.”

The situation at the ports was still bad, even into October.

“The economic fallout from COVID-19 continues to disrupt supply chains across the country and around the world,” stated an Oct 20, 2020, NWSA news release. “The NWSA gateway saw 59 blank sailings through September, surpassing the total number of canceled sailings in 2019.”

As with most ports in the U.S., by the end of the year cargo traffic had rebounded or even exceeded 2019 levels at the NWSA ports—except for auto volume. That stood at 156,205 units, down 18.6 percent from the previous year, according to a Jan. 20, 2021, NWSA news release.

Pressure Builds on White House to Take Port Action

Los Angeles, CA – Pressure is building on the White House to appoint a federal mediator to broker a new labor contract between U.S. West Coast union dock workers and the terminal operators that employ them at 29 U.S. West Coast ports from Bellingham, Washington, to San Diego.

The latest call for action comes from the executive directors of the Port of Los Angeles and the Port Long Beach, as a work slowdown at the nation’s two top-ranking containerports has eroded dramatically since both the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) ended an unsuccessful round of talks in October.

The PMA has charged the ILWU is filling only about 50 percent of the work orders for skilled equipment operators needed for yard work, while the union insists the admittedly slowed pace is a result of a chronic list of problems that range from working the latest generation of mega-containerships to a shortage of chassis and what they call “terminal mismanagement.”

“Enough is enough. These guys have to get back to work,” said Jon Slangerup, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, at a recent maritime industry event.

Slangerup and Gene Seroka, executive director of the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, have joined a growing number of representatives from both the public and private sectors publicly urging President Obama to name a Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service representative to end the impasse and get both groups to come to an agreement and end the crippling work slowdown.

Over the past several weeks, the two largest industry groups in the country – the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers – have ramped-up their efforts to get the White House to act with U.S. Senators and House delegations from California, Washington, and Oregon and the mayors of several cities including Los Angeles and Long Beach have written President Obama urging him to appoint a mediator.

Agricultural exporters have reported the shipping delays are backing up supply lines and creating serious economic damage, hurting their reputation among overseas buyers.

Obama’s only statement on the situation was issued in mid-November, when an Administration spokesman said that the president was “confident the two sides” will reach a contract.

The situation, said Slangerup, “has gotten worse. That should send a clear signal to the White House that it is time for action. The president has to act. It is long overdue.”

12/12/2014

Long Beach Tackles Chronic Port Congestion

Long Beach, CA – Responding to the chronic congestion snarling the movement of cargo containers through one of the country’s busiest ports, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved the use of port property as a temporary site for the storage of empty containers.

The “Temporary Empty Container Depot” will be operated on 30 acres of a vacant, undeveloped area on Pier S on Terminal Island in a move to “help to free up needed equipment to move cargo out of shipping terminals faster” and “put back into circulation more chassis,” the wheeled trailer-frames that trucks use to haul containers.

Truckers using the new will be able to deliver empty containers and remove them from a chassis, and then use the chassis to pick up and haul loaded containers to nearby intermodal rail facilities or their regional destinations.

The depot will be operated by a private company, Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals, under a permit that will expire at the end of March 2015.

Designation of the new depot is reportedly one of several measures the port is pursuing to relieve the congestion issues that have come with a surge of cargo in the last two months caused by the busy peak shipping season, the advent of larger ships and a change in the ownership system for chassis fleets.

In addition to the depot, the port has reportedly crafting a plan to operate its own chassis fleet for peak cargo shipping seasons and facilitate the introduction by private chassis fleets of an additional 3,000 chassis into the local equipment pool.

“We hear our customers loud and clear,” said Doug Drummond, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “This congestion is not acceptable, and the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is ensuring that the Port of Long Beach is doing everything it can to see that we clear up these issues now and forever.”

11/17/2014

 

Port of Long Beach Clogged with Box Cargo

Long Beach, CA – Cargo movement through the Port of Long Beach is being delayed from three to five days because of a surge in cargo volume and a “stressed and in some cases, flawed ”supply chain infrastructure, according to port Chief Executive Jon Slangerup.

Speaking at a recent town hall meeting at the Center for International Trade & Transportation at California State University – Long Beach, Slangerup said the flaws result from a failure of the supply chain “to work as an integrated system.”

Slangerup’s comments follow his recent formation of a Congestion Relief Team (CRT) “to meet daily, seek solutions, and solicit feedback from our staff in the field.”

The port, he said, “will do everything we can bring our partners who operate and work at the terminals together to identify bottlenecks and implement solutions.”

The first target of the CRT is the shortage of chassis at the port, a situation that Slangerup has called a “mismanaged mess.” Chassis are the frame trailers used to haul cargo containers.

“There is a chassis imbalance,” said Dr. Noel Hacegaba, the Port’s chief operating officer. “This is a big part of the congestion issue and I have been facilitating discussions with the key players to find relief as soon as possible.”

Cargo numbers rose sharply for the Port of Long Beach in September as the port recorded its heaviest traffic for that month since 2007, the port’s peak cargo volume year.

Nearly 630,000 containers moved through the port last month, a 7 percent increase over the same month last year.

Imports to Long Beach rose 10 percent as retailers brought in products for the holiday shopping season. More than 339,000 containers came into the port, making it the third-highest month for imports in the port’s history. Exports, however, fell 12 percent.

Over the first nine months of the year, container traffic at the Port of Long Beach is up 1.7 percent.

Cargo numbers climbed in September largely due to the importation of products for the upcoming holiday shopping season and the increased container capacity of the newer generation of containerships calling at the port.

10/23/2014

Ports Face ‘Big Ships, Big Challenges’: White Paper

Long Beach, CA – The deployment of the latest generation of mega-containerships “presents physical, financial and operational challenges that must be met by port authorities across the country” according to the Port of Long Beach’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Noel Hacegaba.

Even for ports that will not see the mega vessels call at their ports any time soon, the arrival of the larger ships is creating a cascading effect in which the ships being replaced by mega vessels are being deployed in the smaller trade lanes,” says Hacegaba in a new white paper, “Big Ships, Big Challenges.”

The average size of container ships, he says, has grown considerably in recent years and the trend is likely to continue for years to come.

“Although 18,000 TEU [20-foot equivalent unit] vessels are the largest in service currently, ships that carry more than 10,000 TEUs are still considered large and have limited options with regards to trade lanes and to ports that can accommodate them,” he writes.

Hacegaba said the industry is turning to the larger ships because they reduce operating costs for shipping operators, and they help meet regulatory requirements to decrease in potentially harmful emissions.

According to the white paper, ports around the country are spending $46 billion in capital improvements, including $4.5 billion invested at the Port of Long Beach. Shipping companies “are ordering larger ships to meet demand, while cutting the operational costs they would otherwise incur by sending cargo on multiple trips.”

As a result, ports of all sizes “are struggling to ready themselves to handle the larger vessels.”

Hacegaba states that regardless of a port’s size, they face a demand to handle a larger class of vessels. In the coming years it is projected that smaller vessels will be put out of services to make way for larger ones. But the largest ships will go to the biggest ports, while today’s larger ships will switch to smaller ports.

For the vessel operators, “the major investments in larger ships is straining their resources. So ocean carrier alliances and consolidations are also being forged as a result,” he says.

While this is not new to the maritime industry, Hacegaba points out that they are “providing financial uncertainty for port authorities.”

The newly aligned or consolidated vessel operators may move to different ports, while a smaller port may spend millions on fixing its infrastructure, and then lose a major tenant. In addition, smaller ports that don’t upgrade infrastructure because of their struggle for funding may face losing business as small-sized fleets are phased out.

The maritime industry “is ever evolving as technologies improve,” he concludes, with port authorities “playing a primary role” in educating both the industry and the public in potential changes.

“Ports must be built to handle larger ships and be prepared when shipping alliances do not go in their favor. As the maritime industry and how goods are moved change, so must ports if they are to be ready to handle the next generation of larger ships.”

0919/2014