Chairman Cordero Addresses the Congressional Ports Caucus - Federal Maritime Commission
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Chairman Cordero Addresses the Congressional Ports Caucus

March 23, 2015

In his March 17, 2015 remarks before the Congressional Ports Caucus, Chairman Cordero discussed the growth in U.S. ocean commerce, the congestion challenges facing U.S. ports and the prospects for resolving those problems. He also addressed the need to fund and implement improvements to deteriorating port-related infrastructure, including the use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

Chairman Cordero noted that U.S. ocean commerce is continuously expanding, with the world’s container port volume now twice as large as it was 10 years ago. Also, vessels that have been added to the world’s fleets include vessels with capacities of 19,000 TEUs. Currently, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are serving vessels that can carry 14,500 TEUs.

The Chairman underscored that the thousands of containers that are discharged at one time from such vessels presents a huge challenge to terminal operators and port drayage truckers. The difficulties in the handling of such container volumes also exacerbates problems caused by insufficient chassis availability, trucker shortages, and lack of adequate investment in port-related infrastructure.

The Chairman explained to the Caucus members that the Commission had heard complaints from all sectors of the supply chain. The most troubling being those by American farmers that have lost entire export shipments due to spoilage or experienced great losses in cargo value because shipments cannot be loaded in time to get them to foreign markets.

Though significant port congestion problems must be addressed, Chairman Cordero highlighted a distinctly positive development: the joint efforts of the Port of Long Beach and Orient Overseas Container Line to build a state-of-the-art marine terminal facility at the Long Beach Container Terminal.

The Chairman was also pleased to acknowledge efforts by Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals L.P. and the Port of Los Angeles to develop operations at the Port’s Navy Way yard that will allow containers from major customers to be quickly moved to the outlying area where truckers can quickly move containers that are destined for inland distribution centers. Pasha and the Port of Long Beach are developing a similar operation at the Port of Long Beach Pier S facility.

Chairman Cordero assured the Caucus members that the Commission is doing what it can to help resolve congestion issues, including its grant of a request by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for expedited review of an amendment to their cooperative working agreement permitting them to address the systemic causes of port congestion.

The Chairman emphasized that the long-term competitiveness of America’s ports also depends on adequate investment in port-related infrastructure and that funding sources need to be identified and activated, including better utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.