The Northwest Seaport Alliance “Breakwater” Newsletter – July 2018:
The USACE’s Commanding General signed the Chief of Engineers Report for the Seattle Harbor Navigation Improvement Project, a plan to deepen the channels leading to the container terminals in the Seattle Harbor to 57 feet.
“This project will make the Port of Seattle the deepest container port in the nation at 57 feet deep,” said Courtney Gregoire, Port of Seattle commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “This is another step forward to making T-5 big ship ready, and able to handle the largest cargo vessels in the world. The Port of Seattle and The Northwest Seaport Alliance thank the Army Corps of Engineers for their timely completion of this study and recognition of the value the project will contribute to our nation.”
The Corps delivered its fiscal year 2018 work plan to Congress, which includes funding to initiate a feasibility study for a deepening project for the Tacoma Harbor.
Photo credit: The Northwest Seaport Alliance
The Port of Seattle and Eagle Marine Services (EMS), operator of Terminal 5, announced on May 16th a proposal to relocate its cargo and breakbulk activities to another terminal so that the port can modernize Terminal 5 to handle the bigger ships that are changing international shipping.
“If we’re going to keep jobs in Washington state, we need investments that make us globally competitive,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant. “That’s why we’re rebuilding T5. We’re investing in jobs. Modernizing T5 so it can handle the new big ships is the first step in realigning our port for the future.”
“As we are working to preserve maritime jobs in Seattle, the Commission is moving forward to strengthen cooperation with the Port of Tacoma to increase trade in Puget Sound,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton. “We’re having productive talks on how we can make the Puget Sound gateway more competitive and create new jobs.”
“ILWU Local 19 appreciates the work the Port of Seattle and terminal operators are doing to keep cargo here in Seattle by making each of our terminals big ship ready,” said ILWU Local 19 President Cam Williams. “By preparing for the future, we insure that jobs will stay in the region.”
Shipping lines are consolidating into new alliances, and have been launching much bigger ships as part of their strategy to reduce costs. While three of the port’s container terminals are already home to Super Post-Panamax cranes that service 10,000 TEU vessels and above, the existing cranes at Terminal 5 are not able to handle these bigger ships.
Under the proposal, EMS would shift its operations to Terminal 18, allowing EMS to preserve container volume and ship calls. This commitment will preserve maritime jobs that depend on cargo flowing today through T5. Cargo destined to T5, under this proposal, would begin transitioning to T18 in mid-June. The proposal with EMS is tentative pending approval by the Port of Seattle Commission.
“T5 needs to be modernized for the bigger ships that are already here, we applaud the Port in working with us to preserve our customers’ cargo through this gateway,” said Nathaniel Seeds, COO of Eagle Marine Services, Ltd.
Maintaining efficient cargo throughput is essential for moving goods in and out of the port. With four in ten jobs in Washington dependent on trade, these terminal improvements will insure that Washington goods can get out of the Port of Seattle and into markets world-wide.
“Preserving vessel service capacity is good for exporters, we appreciate the Port of Seattle’s efforts to keep this gateway competitive,” said Anderson Hay CEO & President Mark Anderson.
The Port has also received approval from the federal government to let the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begin studying the potential for a project that may result in the deepening of the West Waterway channel near the terminal.