Maersk’s Bruner warns U.S. container terminal capacity running out
James Russell Bruner, president and chief executive officer of Maersk Inc., blatantly warned the shipping industry that port capacity limits for container traffic will be reached in some U.S. ports within two years and at all them by 2010.
“Port capacity just can’t keep pace with the trade we’re expecting,” Bruner told attendees at the Hampton Roads Maritime Association conference on Thursday night. There is an estimated 16 million TEUs of imports and 7.8 million TEUs in exports. About 45 percent of U.S. imports now originate in China.
Bruner stressed the need for 50-foot water depth in the nation’s ports to accommodate the larger containerships, in addition to stronger rail and inland connections. He noted that 58 percent of vessels under construction can’t call on East Coast ports because of draft restrictions. Only three container terminals, which includes APM Terminals’ new facility in Portsmouth, Va., are currently scheduled to be built in the United States between now and 2010.
Bruner warned that U.S. ports and intermodal infrastructure improvements cannot keep pace with the anticipated increases in container traffic, and that the focus in the short run should be on better use of existing terminal assets and operations.
“We can’t fix any of these issues in the near term,” he said. “We need to change the way we operate in the terminals today.”