The US has the largest economy in the world, and this has largely been fuelled by the operations of its ports. Still dealing with the remnants of COVID-19, America has continued experiencing tremendous surges in consumer demand which is clearly reflected by the corresponding container handling figures.
With the complete annual figures yet to be released, we have taken data from the first 10 months of the year to give us an indication of what the final yearly figures could look like.
5. Port of Houston
Beginning with our ranking for 2022, the Port of Houston has successfully surpassed last year’s Number 5 entry of the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) of Seattle and Tacoma, handling a grand total of 3,333,924 TEU from January to October.
Overall, this represents a container volume rise of almost 18 per cent compared to the same time in 2021, which handled 2,835,486 TEU.
As a result of significant increases in container handling, the Port of Houston Authority has started making preparations to expand capacity by transforming Bayport Container Terminal (BPT) into an extra container yard.
This involves converting a total area of 100 acres at BTP in Bayport East End not only to increase container volume, but to also enhance terminal efficiency and cut emissions.
In November the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority voted to introduce a sustained import dwell fee and an optional excessive import dwell fee to cope with record-breaking volumes. The changes were effective from 1 December 2022, however were put on hold later in the month.
4. The Port of Savannah
The Port of Savannah is once again on track to record its greatest annual TEU handling total after another extremely successful October period in 2022, handling 552,806 TEU.
Over the first 10 months of 2022, the port handled 4,986,489 TEU demonstrating a considerable year-on-year increase from 4,652,463 TEU handled at the same time in 2021.
Earlier this month the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Board approved renovation and realignment of the docks at the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal in a bid to expand container operation.
The GPA also placed an order for 12 Konecranes Rubber-Tyred Gantries for the Port of Savannah in an effort to assist the tremendous growth and increased productivity the port has experienced.
3. The Port of Long Beach
Although the Port of Long Beach has had an incredibly busy year, surpassing handling totals from the previous year and setting new records, it has nonetheless slid to third on the list.
During the first 10 months of 2022, the Port of Long Beach handled 8,000,811 TEU, an increase of 1.5 per cent from the 7,884,565 TEU per cent handled during the same time in 2021.
Due to decreased consumer demand and a shift in imported commodities toward the Gulf and East coasts, cargo passing through the Port of Long Beach has eased up once more in October.
In October, 658,428 TEU of cargo containers were handled by dockworkers and terminal operators, a 16.6 per cent decrease from October 2021. Exports fell 2 per cent to 119,763 TEU while imports fell 23.7 per cent to 293,924 TEU. 244,743 TEU fewer empty containers were carried through the port, a 13.4 per cent decrease.
The Port of Long Beach has joined the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES). Green hydrogen is a crucial fuel for the shipping industry’s future as we work toward the Port’s targets of zero-emissions trucking by 2035 and zero-emissions cargo-handling by 2030.
2. The Port of New York and New Jersey
On our list of the busiest ports in the US, the Port of New York and New Jersey has now surpassed the Port of Long Beach due to a boom in container volume that has been triggered by a gradual shift away from the US West Coast ports.
Solidifying its status as the second busiest port in America, the year-to-date container volumes at the port have reached 8,157,584 TEU, an increase of 7.3 per cent from the 7,455,786 TEU handled in the same period in 2021.
As the number of containers passing through the US West Coast ports continues to decline, the Port of New York and New Jersey continued to hold the top rank as the busiest in the nation for a third consecutive month.
The port carried approximately 19 per cent more cargo in October 2022 than it did in pre-pandemic October 2019.
1. The Port of Los Angeles
Securing its spot at the top of the list is the Port of Los Angeles.
Similar to the Ports of New York and New Jersey, consumer demand has pushed Los Angeles’ container handling figures to new highs. In the first 10 months of 2022, the Port of Los Angeles handled 8,542,944 TEU, a 6 per cent decrease from last year’s record pace when 9,079,561 TEU were processed.
When compared to October 2021, the Port of Los Angeles handled 678,429 TEU, a 25 per cent decline in cargo volume.
Port of Los Angeles Executive Director, Gene Seroka, cited that shippers awaiting the conclusion of labour contract negotiations have been largely responsible for cargo shifting away from the West Coast.
This explains why the Port of New York and New Jersey saw a considerable rise in cargo handling that ultimately helped it surpass the Port of Long Beach.
The two-year period of a containership backup has now come to an end due to decreased traffic in both Californian ports. Throughout the pandemic, with a peak of 109 on 9 January 2022, containerships lining up outside the major US West Coast ports was a common sight.
Currently, there are just a handful of vessels at anchor outside of the ports, as opposed to 81 containerships on 22 November 2021.