• ITVI.USA
    15,378.070
    -88.350
    -0.6%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.743
    0.001
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.820
    0.290
    1.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,350.040
    -89.040
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.280
    -0.020
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.190
    0.050
    1.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.560
    -0.030
    -1.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.420
    0.090
    2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.220
    0.050
    2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    1.000
    0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,378.070
    -88.350
    -0.6%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.743
    0.001
    0%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.820
    0.290
    1.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,350.040
    -89.040
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.280
    -0.020
    -0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.190
    0.050
    1.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.560
    -0.030
    -1.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.420
    0.090
    2.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.220
    0.050
    2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    1.000
    0.8%
American Shipper

Commentary: Time to heed Foltz’s call for terminal utilization

The outgoing director of the Georgia Ports Authority told a conference in New Orleans this month that port infrastructure can’t be used in a proprietary manner as ship sizes increase at United States ports.

   A few years back, I wrote a short commentary suggesting that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach stop competing against one another and work toward building a single, unified port facility.
   I hardly expected anything to change. After all, this arrangement has been around for decades, and the more troubling aspect of the two neighboring ports’ administrative duplication is that there are 13 individual terminals at the two ports, all of which compete for the same cargo.
   Some cater to specific lines or alliances (some indeed are affiliated with certain lines) and while this would seemingly create a market free-for-all that would benefit shippers, what it has really amounted to is artificial complexity.
   This issue has resurfaced in recent months because of the impact the latest generation of big ships is having on U.S. ports. And it’s not just little ol’ me making the claims. It’s Curtis Foltz, outgoing executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.
   In a panel at the Critical Commodities Conference in New Orleans earlier this month, Foltz didn’t explicitly call out the Southern California ports – he called out the U.S. port network in general. Foltz emphasized that pooling terminal infrastructure is going to be the only way for U.S. ports to remain competitive as the size of ships calling at U.S. ports grows.
   And his argument sounded awful familiar to me.
   Here’s the reality: when a 14,000-TEU ship heads to Southern California and can only dock at one specific berth at one terminal in the largest port facility in the Western Hemisphere, that’s not a good use of resources. What happens if that the vessel arrival previous to the 14,000-TEU ship’s call was late? What if that particular container yard is congested? What if there’s a one-day strike at that terminal?
   It would be a much better use of resources to allow this massive ship and its massive payload to slot into the first available berth capable of handling it, anywhere in the port.
   Foltz mentioned a host of other operational knock-on effects when certain calls are pegged to certain terminals, none of which are particularly beneficial to the smooth flow of cargo.
   We’ll probably never have a single terminal structure in Los Angeles or Long Beach (or any other landlord U.S. port), much less a joining of the two ports, but maybe it’s time to heed Foltz’s call and start thinking of terminal infrastructure as less proprietary.

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