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Added measures at Port of Oakland to handle cargo increase

Logistics Management

The “good news story” of the season appears to be generated by officials at The Port of Oakland, who report that it has taken additional steps in an ongoing effort to manage a surge of inbound container vessel calls.

This in marked contrast to the dreary narrative being reprised by most other U.S. West Coast ports suffering calamitous congestion causing deployment diversions and disruptions in major supply chains.

The situation is most acute at the mega ocean cargo gateway of Los Angeles/Long Beach, which suffers from a shortage of truck chassis in addition to dockside labor slowdowns afflicting all Pacific Rim ports.

To handle the “unprecedented frequency” of vessels now anchored in San Francisco Bay, the Port of Oakland initiated the following measures:

*A gate opened last Sunday at one of the port’s largest marine terminals to discharge additional import cargo.

*An operational status update sent daily to hundreds of harbor truckers, ocean carriers and shippers to improve supply chain planning.

The added features are expected to improve cargo flow slowed by increased container volume and a multitude of delayed vessels arriving simultaneously.

In the last three days alone, 13 ships called in Oakland; most well behind schedule. Maritime officials say the number of ships in the Bay outstrips anything seen in the past decade.

“We welcome increased cargo volume at Oakland and we’ve got to do a better job of managing the flow,” said Port Maritime Director John Driscoll. “We’re working every day with the marine terminals, truck drivers and shippers to pick up the pace.”

Import cargo volume has increased at Oakland in each of the last three months compared to 2013 totals. The gains resulted from aggressive marketing as well as congestion at other ports which caused cargo diversions to Oakland.

The port has said it has capacity to accept additional containers. But operations have been hampered by off-schedule ships and recent labor-management disputes on the docks. The result has been a slowdown in cargo movement and long lines of trucks waiting to enter terminals.

The port has responded with extended hours, night gates and dedicated lanes in terminals to expedite simple transactions. It’s meeting regularly with harbor truckers to address their issues in hauling cargo. The daily status update launched today will provide the latest information on vessel arrivals, terminal operations and truck queues outside terminal gates.

The Port of Oakland leases marine terminals to operating companies that manage the facilities. It said terminal operators plan to continue occasional night and weekend gates until cargo flows normalize. Cargo volume is expected to moderate soon now that the peak holiday shipping season has passed.

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