#593 – Top 10 U.S. Container Ports

Posted on | The Agurban

Having a port nearby can be a huge boon for economic development is the areas surrounding the port. Manufacturers who use imported raw materials keep their costs lower by being near the port. Also, the cost of transporting final goods for export will be lower when the manufacturer is near a port. Right now the biggest port news is the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, which allows for larger cargo ships to pass through. Inbound Logistics recently posted an article on the Top 10 U.S. Container Ports. We are sharing a portion of their article below, along with the 2014 list of top U.S. container ports by volume of TEU’s (twenty-foot equivalent unit containers).

Top 10 U.S. Container Ports
Inbound Logistics

The extent to which the Panama Canal expansion will impact U.S. container trade patterns remains to be seen. But to some degree, the knock-on effect is already apparent. East Coast ports have been aggressively seeking funding to deepen harbors and improve accessibility that will entrench long-term support from carriers and shippers alike.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is busy raising the Bayonne Bridge at a cost of $1.3 billion to accommodate larger container ships. After more than one decade of legal wrangling, the Georgia Ports Authority has finally commenced a $706-million dredging project to deepen the Savannah harbor. Meanwhile, across the state of Florida, public and private sector interests have jumped on board a multimodal roadmap that is injecting billions of dollars into infrastructure upgrades along the Jacksonville-to-Miami corridor.

Container volumes in and out of East Coast ports are growing appreciably. While Los Angeles and Long Beach remain the bell cows of U.S. container throughput, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades, and Virginia ports are the fastest growing hubs. Notably, they’re all in the Southeast. Shifting demographics necessarily trigger an upswell in demand.

There are other considerations as well. Recurring labor strife at West Coast ports gives U.S. shippers and consignees more incentive to diversify port strategies. Flexibility and redundancy are imperatives.

Global sourcing dynamics are similarly changing. As China’s low-cost competitiveness wanes, Southeast Asia and India are emerging as fitting suitors for U.S. offshore activity. This brings the Suez trade into play. On the horizon, the west coast of Africa looms as another source-from and sell-into magnet.

Shippers are even looking beyond the east and west coasts, especially as capacity tightens and sustainability mandates mature. Great Lake and Gulf Coast ports provide direct access to the North American hinterland, which is attractive for importers and exporters looking to shorten overland drays and reduce transportation costs.

Lastly, as larger containerships come online—there’s even talk now of a 25,000-TEU prototype—port throughput becomes a differentiator. Back-door speed is just as important as front-door accessibility.

For these reasons and more, port selection is an important component of supply chain strategy.

Top 10 List:

  1. Port of Los Angeles, 8,340,065 total TEU’s
  2. Port of Long Beach, 6,820,806 TEU’s
  3. Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, 5,772,303 TEU’s
  4. Port of Seattle & Tacoma, 3,427,561 TEU’s
  5. Port of Savannah, 3,346,024 TEU’s
  6. Port of Oakland, 2,394,069 TEU’s
  7. Port of Virginia, 2,393,038 TEU’s
  8. The Port of Houston Authority, 1,958,251 TEU’s
  9. Port of Charleston (SC), 1,791,977 TEU’s
  10. Port of SanJuan, Puerto Rico, 1,319,961 TEU’s