Could Marine Highway Ships and Port of Oakland Relieve LA/LB Port Congestion?

Paul Snell, chief executive officer, British American Shipping, Long Beach, California, suggested that a coastal feeder ship service linking the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland could relieve Southern California port congestion.

Snell was speaking to the Propeller Club of Northern California Maritime Day forum on May 16th, 2022, where he discussed “Challenges to U.S. Exporters.”

Snell said there is a serious problem with the lack of infrastructure at U.S. ports.

He referenced the lack of on-dock rail which has slowed the velocity of imported containers coming into the United States as well as slowing the flow of exported containers.

Snell also suggested that a coastal vessel feeder service linking the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with Oakland could relieve congestion at the Southern California ports.

He speculated that the coastal service could also provide a lower freight rate than the $3,000 trucking cost borne by importers and exporters currently having to access the two Southern California ports for imports and exports. The coastal service could also reduce the delay in retrieving chassis from Southern California which has slowed the movement of harbor truckloads to Port of Oakland customers, he said.

The expansion of coastal and inland shipping utilizing Jones Act vessels built in the United States and manned by U.S. crews has long been advocated by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) as the Marine Highway system. MARAD has designated and funded waterborne Marine Highway transport to reduce highway and port congestion.

On California’s Interstate 5 there are between 6,000 to 7,000 five axle trucks per day carrying imports and exports and other goods between Northern and Southern California, according to California Department of Transportation.


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