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July 20, 2022 12:15 PM, EDT

Pacific, Atlantic Ports Post Strong June Volumes

Port of Los Angeles Reports its Best Volume Ever for the Month
Howard Terminal at Port of OaklandHoward Terminal at the Port of Oakland, the proposed site for the Oakland Athletics' ballpark and related mixed-use development. ( San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission via Twitter)

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Another month, another record at some of the nation’s ports.

At the Port of Los Angeles, longshore workers processed 876,611 20-foot-equivalent containers in June. That marked the highest volume for that month in the facility’s 115-year history, besting 2021’s record by 181 containers.

“Halfway through the year, we’ve been able to reduce the number of vessels waiting to berth by 75%, allowing dockworkers to efficiently process more vessels,” Port of L.A. Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “We’re already beginning to handle back-to-school, fall fashion and year-end holiday goods. Despite inflation and higher-than-usual inventory, we expect cargo volume to remain robust the second half of the year.”

At the six-month mark of 2022, the port has handled more than 5.4 million TEUs, matching last year’s record-setting pace.

The adjacent Port of Long Beach shattered its record for the month, processing 835,412 TEUs. That’s up 15.3%, or 83,334 containers, from last June’s record 752,078. Imports soared by 16.4%, and empty containers moving through the port also jumped by 21.6%.

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“We are anticipating a robust summer season as consumer demand continues to drive cargo to our docks,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said. “We expect to remain moderately busy in the coming months, and we will work to promptly process containers lingering at the port.”

Meanwhile, demolition work continues at Long Beach on the late 1960s-era Gerald Desmond Bridge, which spans Interstate 710. The new $1.5 billion, cable-stayed Long Beach International Gateway Bridge adds 50 feet of vertical clearance, now up to 205 feet for shipping compared with the Desmond Bridge. That allows for the largest vessels to enter and leave the port as well as provide for additional vehicle traffic with more lanes on the interstate.

It wasn’t just West Coast ports breaking records: The Port of Virginia reported a 12.9% year-over-year increase in June, processing 317,742 containers compared with 281,346 in 2021. For fiscal 2022, the port finished with 3.7 million TEUs, a 14.7% increase from the previous year.

The Port of Oakland reported a 2.9% year-over-year decline, with 215,953 containers in June compared with 222,483 a year ago. Because of high shipping rates from inbound cargo from China, for more than a year some shippers have skipped Oakland and immediately headed back to China to get more freight to deliver it to Long Beach and Los Angeles. That freight would then be moved via truck farther north.

However, port officials say that trend is lessening .

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission has taken a major step in eventually allowing Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics to build a new stadium and commercial development at the port. The team has been seeking to replace aging Ring Central Coliseum with a waterfront ballpark.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which operates facilities in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., reported a 10.3% volume drop in June, to 309,123 TEUs from 344,573 in 2021.

NWSA officials said in a statement to Transport Topics that “reduced vessel calls in June due to congestion in other ports, as well as some ongoing service suspensions, negatively impacted volumes at the NWSA. Vessel carriers have voided some calls to the NWSA due to limited berth windows in other ports in the service rotation, reducing volume totals for the NWSA.”

Guenther

Port Houston recorded another strong month, handling 11% more containers year-over-year — 323,823 compared with 292,627. The port is running 18% ahead of 2021’s record pace; workers have moved 1,897,065 containers for the first six months compared with 1,607,793 last year. The port recently announced it was expanding its weekly hours and adding Saturday truck availability.

“It is critical our industry take advantage of the extended hours we are providing for our customers,” Port Executive Director Roger Guenther said. “Expanding these hours must be a way of the future,”

The busiest port operation on the Atlantic Ocean — the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — typically reports late in the month, and June volume is nopt yet available. However, the facility handled 845,305 containers in May, a 6.1% year-over-year increase.

The Port of Savannah, Ga., officials said cargo volume numbers will be made public after the monthly board meeting July 26. The South Carolina Port Authority, which operates the Port of Charleston, also has yet to report volume numbers.

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