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Longer lasting Belts, New Split Spools -- no regrind:Layout 1 8/26/2009 4:37 AM Page 1
also become a huge issue for East
Realistically, few East Coast
ports will play host to the big
ships, says Dr. Bruce Arntzen,
executive director of the Supply
Chain Management Program at
the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (MIT). Schedule constraints and the economics of ship
and shoreside operations mean
carriers will limit direct calls to
a handful of ports—perhaps just
two or three—and serve others
via feeder services. This hub and
feeder system with its reduced
number of direct calls means that
overall transit times are unlikely
to improve. “Most of the delays on the
steamship end happen on land, and the
added trans-shipments mean more of the
handling and handoffs that typically cause
delays,” he explains.
Ports such as Baltimore; Charleston,
S.C.; Miami; Philadelphia; and Virginia,
among others, have attributed increased
container traffic to ships transiting the
expanded canal. That new business comes
at a price, however. To make themselves
“big ship ready,” East Coast ports required
(depending on the port) such things as longer quays, bigger cranes that could stretch
across 18 to 22 containers, deeper channels
and berths, more container storage space
and on-dock rail capacity, bigger turning
basins, and higher bridges—witness the
Port of New York/New Jersey’s raising of
the Bayonne Bridge to allow Neopanamax
ships to pass under it.
Even ports that “hadn’t been major des-
tinations before ... are competing for fed-
eral funding for dredging and channel
improvements that are mostly focused on
accommodating the big ships,” Arntzen
observes. But given the inevitable reduc-
tion in direct port calls, he says, “they have
to ask themselves whether it’s a better strat-
egy to become a great feeder hub instead.”
Yet even if Neopanamax ships never
call at a port that’s invested in infrastruc-
ture improvements, that doesn’t mean it’s
wasted money. The bigger ships will send
more containers via feeder to those ports.
Importers, exporters, and other players
are sure to benefit from the efficiencies the
infrastructure improvements will
Prince says the Panama Canal
expansion has produced one more
benefit for shippers: It has made
port labor on both coasts aware that
“there’s another coast shippers can
use” if there’s a strike. “They realize
cargo on the West Coast can go to
the East, and East Coast cargo can
go west,” he says. “Shippers and
carriers can have a choice. They’re
not constrained by the size of the