Port of Oakland may get second-fewest ship visits in a decade

By Curious

New data indicates the Port of Oakland this year may receive its second-fewest container ship visits in a decade. A Port executive today called it a positive sign.

“This is a good trend,” said Maritime Director John Driscoll. “Our cargo volume is up but with fewer ships, we reduce diesel emissions and ease berth crowding.”

Port of Oakland may get second-fewest ship visits in a decade

The Port said that through July, 954 container ships have visited Oakland in 2017. That’s down 7.6 percent from 1,032 visits at the same time last year. If the trend persists, vessel calls for the full year would total about 1,650.  That would be about 100 fewer ships than Oakland received last year.

The Port said 100 fewer ship calls should result in reduced diesel particulate emissions in Oakland.  It should also ease demand for berthing space at the Port’s marine terminals. With less vessel traffic, there’s little need for ships to idle in San Francisco Bay waiting for berths.

Vessel calls in Oakland have declined 15 percent since 2007, the Port said.  The low point was 2015 when 1,433 ships visited.

Despite fewer vessel calls, the Port said loaded container volume is up 2 percent in 2017.  If that pace holds, Oakland could set a cargo record for the second straight year.

The Port said the phenomenon of more cargo but fewer ships reflects an industry-wide trend.  Shipping lines are consolidating container volumes to cut costs, the Port explained.  With fewer voyages, they reduce fuel and other operating expenses.

Ships calling Oakland in 2017 are newer and larger, the Port said.  It added that modern vessels are more fuel efficient, making them environmentally friendly.

One byproduct of larger ships: they’re loading and unloading about 11 percent more containers per visit, the Port said. That challenges marine terminals and harbor truckers attempting to quickly deliver customers’ cargo. It was pointed out, however, that terminals have overcome the challenge through longer hours of operation and trucker appointments.

Source: Port of Oakland