Bigger ships, new service, more efficient cargo handling

Oakland, Calif. - A Port of Oakland executive is eager for changes in the way container shipping lines operate. Maritime Director John Driscoll said in an interview today that newly formed ocean carrier alliances will benefit his Port.

“We’ll see larger vessels coming to the Port, which is a good thing,” he told employees in a podcast on the Port’s website. “We’ll get more container moves-per-vessel which increases the efficiency of operations.”

Mr. Driscoll also said the Port will receive a new weekly vessel service as a result of carrier realignment. Taiwan-based Wan Hai Lines plans to launch a new route connecting Oakland and Asia, he said. That will bring the number of regularly scheduled vessel services calling Oakland to 29. “It’s a good sign when new players come to Oakland,” the Maritime Director said.

The changes result from an April 1 realignment in which 11 of the world’s largest shipping lines formed three new alliances. Alliances let carriers pool ships on ocean routes to cut costs while expanding market reach. The carriers plan to deploy larger vessels in their alliances, carrying more containers to the U.S. West Coast. That should enable them to reduce the number of voyages while maintaining cargo volume levels.

“What’s good for our customers is good for the Port of Oakland,” said Mr. Driscoll. “When shipping lines can be more efficient – and healthier financially – we all benefit.”

Mr. Driscoll said new alliance configurations should have little impact on Oakland operations. Some vessels will change which of Oakland’s three international marine terminals they call, but the terminals are prepared, he said.

The first vessels operating under new alliance configurations are due in Oakland this week. Oakland has regular service to ports in Asia, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, Latin America, Oceania and Hawaii.