Ports America to realign its West Coast strategy
January 20, 2016
Ports America, the largest stevedore and terminal operating company in the United States, is realigning its West Coast strategy by investing in Los Angeles, Long Beach, the Pacific Northwest and western Canada.
According to spokesmen, these regions have been identified as most suited to its growth goals.
At the same time, however, Ports America will soon be vacating its outer harbor terminal at the Port of Oakland, leaving officials there in a scramble to find a new tenant.
The port said vessels will be rerouted to adjacent terminals after the shutdown occurs. Port representatives assured shipping lines and cargo owners that planning is already underway to blunt the shutdown’s impact.
“We’re disappointed that Ports America is leaving,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “But we’re in advanced discussions with our maritime partners here to prevent disruption to the Oakland business.”
Ports America Outer Harbor said it will continue with business as usual for 30 days, then cease vessel and cargo-handling operations. The company said it will close down the terminal in 60 days.
The port said it expects Ports America to meet all of its lease obligations until the two sides agree on an orderly transition of the property. The Port added that it has engaged in prolonged discussions with Ports America about the operator’s future in Oakland. It said the decision to terminate the lease was made unilaterally by Ports America.
The Port of Oakland put a bright face on this yesterday, noting that this development could actually have some positive consequences.
According to port officials, the departure of Ports America provides two significant opportunities:
• Ships and cargo can be redirected to Oakland’s other marine terminals which have excess capacity; and
• The port can find new, better uses for Ports America Outer Harbor Terminal
Options for the land could include uses unrelated to containerized cargo operations, the port said. That would be new for Oakland, which has been home exclusively to container ships since the 1960s.
Outer Harbor is one of five marine terminals leased to private operators by the port. More than 2,000 ships, most from Asia, berth at the terminals each year. The terminals load and unload containerized cargo transported by the vessels. More than 2 million containers move annually through the Oakland.
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