October 8, 2014 3:40 PM, EDT

Ports of Seattle, Tacoma to Form Alliance

Port of Seattle

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, said they plan to unify management of the cargo terminals to address increasing competition.

The Seaport Alliance will manage cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing, but the port commissions will remain and separate and continue separate ownership of assets.

“Where we were once rivals, we now intend to be partners,” Stephanie Bowman, co-president of the Port of Seattle Commission, said in a statement.

“Instead of competing against one another, we are combining our strengths to create the strongest maritime gateway in North America. The Seaport Alliance is the result of our shared commitment to maintaining the economic health of our region through a thriving maritime industry,” Bowman said.

The alliance is subject to review and approval by the Federal Maritime Commission, the agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system.

Until a more detailed agreement is submitted to FMC in March 2015, the two commissions will enter an Interlocal Agreement to provide a period of due diligence.

During that time, Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe and Kurt Beckett, Port of Seattle Deputy CEO, will co-lead the planning and coordination.

“The ports of Seattle and Tacoma face fierce competition from ports throughout North America, as shipping lines form alliances, share space on ever-larger vessels and call at consolidated terminals at fewer ports,” Clare Petrich, Port of Tacoma commission president, said in a statement.

“Working together, we can better focus on financially sustainable business models that support customer success and ensure our ability to reinvest in terminal assets and infrastructure,” Petrich said.

The ports said, combined, they are the third-largest container gateway in North America and support about 48,000 jobs.