North American Port Analysis: Preparing for the First Post-Panamax Decade

Posted by Content Coordinator on Thursday, August 16th, 2012


Key Takeaways

  • The expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate vessels capable of carrying up to 12,500 containers will alter global trade routes, and is already promoting the advancement of the science of logistics.
  • Four East Coast ports will be ready to handle post-Panamax ships by 2015: Baltimore (2013), Miami (2014), New York (2015) and Norfolk (ready).
  • Four West Coast ports are already post-Panamax ready: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and Seattle.
  • China holds great influence in global port activity. Six of the world’s 10 busiest container ports are in China. None are located in North America.
  • We’ve identified five key risks to North American Ports:
    • Overheated port competition
    • Environmental inaction
    • Labor strikes
    • Slowing global GDP
    • State budget crises

U.S. Will Need to Step Up Port Infrastructure Spending

According to a recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report (U.S. Port and Inland Waterways Modernization: Preparing for Post-Panamax Vessels) post-Panamax vessels will make up 62 percent of total container ship capacity by 2030. North American ports will need to spend billions in order to participate in this global trade opportunity. But the U.S. may be lagging behind—the nation ranks 23rd globally in infrastructure competitiveness, according to the World Economic Forum.

North-American Readiness and Rankings

The western ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and Seattle are post-Panamax ready. Four East Coast ports will be post-Panamax ready in time for the 2015 Panama Canal expansion.

  • Norfolk is currently post-Panamax ready
  • Baltimore will be post-Panamax ready by the end of 2012
  • Miami will be post-Panamax ready by 2015, with dredging approved and super post-Panamax cranes ordered
  • New York will be post-Panamax ready by the end of 2015, with funding now approved to raise the Bayonne Bridge in 2012

Download full report (PDF): North American Port Analysis: Preparing for the First Post-Panamax Decade

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