American Shipper

Extra PNW carrier services boost Seattle’s box volume, market share

Extra PNW carrier services boost Seattle’s box volume, market share

Extra PNW carrier services boost Seattle’s box volume, market share

   A growing number of Asia/Pacific Northwest container services and bigger ships calling at the port of Seattle are boosting the box volume handled by the Pacific Northwest port.

   In January-May, cargo containers moving through the port soared 27 percent to 1.78 million containers, compared to January-May 2004.

   The port of Seattle has gained popularity as a transpacific port gateway and is steadily grabbing market share away from the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex. The Southern Californian ports are still seen by shipping lines and shippers as more congestion-prone.

   In May, Seattle’s box volume rose 10 percent to 156,633 TEUs, while overall container traffic at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach grew just 4 percent to 1.18 million TEUs.

   Further increases in box traffic at the port of Seattle look likely, as three of the ocean carriers calling the port of Seattle recently announced new services linking the port to Asia.

   In late July, Hanjin Shipping will add a service using five ships capable of carrying 5,000 to 7,500 TEUs — the largest ships regularly calling on Seattle.

   Grand Alliance carriers Hapag-Lloyd, NYK, OOCL and P&O Nedlloyd are starting another Asia/Pacific Northwest service in mid-July, with Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., in that order, as the only West Coast ports of call.

   And two New World Alliance carriers, MOL and APL, have reinstated the TP5 peak-season transpacific service connecting Yantian, Hong Kong and Seattle.

   “This kind of growth is one of the reasons we worked so hard to sign Hanjin and Total Terminals International to a long-term lease at Terminal 46,” said port of Seattle commissioner Pat Davis. In January, Hanjin signed an extension of its terminal lease in Seattle’s harbor at least through 2015.

   On the land side, the port will open an upgraded Terminal 25 in mid-July. The 32-acre facility will be leased and operated by Seattle-based SSA for Matson.

   “We have the capacity to handle at least 3 million containers a year right now, and we’re looking at ways to increase that figure,” said M. R. Dinsmore, chief executive officer of the port of Seattle.

   In 2004, 1.8 million TEUs crossed the docks of the port of Seattle.