Ports up and down the North American West Coast are spending billions of dollars on infrastructure improvements readying for the future and its next generation vessels of sizes once thought impossible to handle.

With $ billion plus budgets, the major ports in southern California, for example, are preparing for the challenge of an expanded Panama Canal and whatever threat to business that will bring.

At the Port of Los Angeles, a long-awaited milestone was reached with the completion of the decade long, $370 million

Main Channel Deepening Project last April. The work by the US Army Corps of Engineers deepened the port’s main channel and turning basins from 45 to 53 feet.

“This project has been our single-most important infrastructure project,” said Port Executive Director, Geraldine Knatz, no doubt with an eye on statistics showing the container terminals that eagerly awaited the deeper channel to boost their competitiveness already bring in almost 75% of the port’s business.

During the project, over 15 million cubic yards of dredge materials was removed from the harbour bottom and spread throughout the port site, some of it being used to construct a 104-acre Cabrillo Shallow Water Habitat.


A year ago, Port of Los Angeles marketing manager, Marcel van Dijk said the port had “stepped up our game” and was pushing the advantages of LA over the canal route to eastern consumers. The nearby Port of Long Beach was also determined to fight to hold its market share, according to Director of Trade Development, Don Snyder.

This year, van Dijk says, “we are not there yet” amid flat growth figures from the Port of Los Angeles. He emphasizes that fuel costs are critical in global trade and predicts it will cost more dollars going through the Panama Canal to US East Coast ports than through Los Angeles with its fast and economical rail links to the Mid-West and beyond, particularly in the peak consumer season building up to Christmas.

“The verdict is not out yet on what is going to happen,” he adds, predicting that the expanded canal route will not see a bigger market share when it opens later this year or early in 2015.

And then there’s the intriguing talk of building a whole new canal route through Nicaragua. The West Coast marine industry is askance over news reports of an 11-year project to build a canal twice the length of that in Panama at over 100 miles long.

As the story goes, an agreement has been reached between the Nicaraguan Government and a Hong Kong-based infrastructure development firm for a 50-year concession that includes building a $40 billion canal from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea capable of handling the next generation super energy carriers, and container ships the size of Maersk’s 18,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent unit) giant.

In Los Angeles, van Dijk says he’s also heard of another plan in Colombia involving a new freight rail link from the Port of Cartagena on the East Coast to the Port of Buenaventura on the West negating the need for the Panama Canal and its expected higher fees. The offload in the East and reload onto ships on the West Coast bound for China and other Asian ports remains an idea only.

However,West Coast North American ports aren’t sitting back and as one marketing executive said,“We will compete like crazy.”

In Canada, port and terminal upgrades seem to be the order of the day with billions of dollars of work set for the next decade led by Port Metro Vancouver in coal and petroleum handling infrastructure and equipment upgrades and the Port of Prince Rupert in coal and potential natural gas facilities that seem never ending.

Here’s Dry Cargo International’s annual review of how North America’s major West Coast ports fared in 2012 and year to date (YTD) in 2013.


One of the big spenders, the Port of Long Beach began a decade long, $4.5 billion capital improvement programme in 2010. In the latest fiscal, which started July 1, 2013, the second busiest port in the United States has set aside $788 million for capital spending to help boost its competitiveness by rebuilding and replacing outdated facilities and infrastructure.

Chief among these are the $1.1 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement now underway and with three more years of construction ahead, and the $1.2 billion Middle Harbour container terminal modernization with combines two aging facilities into one in a multi-year project. The budget, which goes before the Long Beach City Council for approval in July, also includes $73 million for environmental programs to improve air and water quality, as well as to protect wildlife.

As recovery continues to dominate thinking, total throughput in 2012 was up slightly at 59.1mt (million tonnes). Year-to-date figures through April had reached 21.1mt with container traffic leading the way at 2,073,394 TEUs and that was up over 17% on the same four months of 2012. Every container category was busier than a year earlier — loaded inbound was up 18.5% through April, loaded outbound up 11.8% and even empties were up 21.5%.

The port handles a wide range of cargoes, and the top imports in 2012 remained crude oil, electronics, plastics, furniture, and clothing while major exports included petroleum coke, bulk petroleum, chemicals, waste paper, and foods.

Container volumes were given a significant boost in 2012 when MSC and CMA CGM, the world’s No.2 and 3 ranked container shipping lines, became financial partners at two of the port’s container terminals. Long Beach also attracted the largest container ship ever to come to North America, with the call of the almost 14,000 TEU MSC Beatrice.

Possible new projects still in the environmental approval stage include a proposed new grain export facility at Pier T on Terminal Island. Currently making revisions after one public hearing, project principals Total Terminals International is expected to take its final Environmental Impact Report before the port board for approval by the end of the summer. The plan is to build a facility to transfer cattle feed grains known as ‘dried distillers grains with solubles’ from railcars to ocean shipping containers at up 2.5mt a year capacity.

On the green side, the Port of Long Beach is following mandated Californian regulations that require visiting container vessels to use shore power. Currently shore power hook ups are being built at all of the port’s container terminals and by early next year more than half of all vessels will be able to plug in for their shore power needs while at berth.


The port launched a Green Ship Incentive Program in July 2012 to encourage vessel operators to bring their newest, cleanest-running ships to Long Beach. Since the programme began, the port has awarded over $135,000 in incentive payments to complying ship operators. And the port says it has reduced diesel-related air emissions by 75% since 2005 when it began its Green Port Policy air quality improvement programmes.


The busiest container port in the USA, the Port of Los Angeles, is still licking its wounds after losing a major container service to rival Port of Long Beach. Worth about 500,000 TEUs a year, the Trans Pacific Service vacated Pier 400 at Los Angeles late in 2012 and the Maersk, CMA CGM, and MSC alliance took its business up the beach. The move hurt LA and total throughput dropped from 59.9mt in 2011 to 56mt in 2012.

And year to date through April the Port of Los Angeles was a shade over 15mt for a projected year end throughput that could drop below 50mt.

Containers are the port’s main business and after a record 8.5 million TEUs in 2006 the total dropped to 6.7 million TEUs during the economic recession in 2009. Since then, LA climbed back to 8.1 million TEUs in 2012, but in the YTD through April, container movement had dipped 10.4% at 2,427,457 TEUs.

No wonder the port is about to go on a big spend with a $1.1 billion budget in the 2013/14 fiscal year, including $380 million in capital improvements to its container terminals. Major items include $99 million for backland improvements at the TraPac Container Terminal to allow future automation and to bring on-dock rail to the facility — all of LA’s container terminals will then have trains on the dock.

Another $41.5 million is set aside for construction at the China Shipping Terminal, in work that includes 375 feet of expanded wharf and other backland improvements. Almost $96 million will go to the installation of Alternative Maritime Power stations at major container terminals; another $8.2 million is earmarked for the audit, design and construction for upgrades at liquid bulk oil handling facilities; and almost $78 million will build a Berth 200 rail yard.

Other interesting work includes raising the height of eight container cranes by 26 feet at the China Shipping facility and seven others by 22 feet at TraPac to cater to 12,000 TEU vessels. Of the 85 cranes in the port’s container terminals, nearly half are now Super Post-Panamax, the most modern available. And the port has also bought its first four ZPMC dual trolley cranes, which it expects to increase efficiency by 50%.

Yusen Terminals also has harbour commission approval to seek environmental approvals to deepen its berth depth from 45 to 53 feet and improve its facilities ready for next generation container vessels.

But, all isn’t smooth sailing for the Port of Los Angeles where legal challenges have put a crimp in its green policies. In one US Supreme Court decision in June, the American Trucking Associations won a challenge against aspects of the port’s Clean Truck Program — an imposed comprehensive licensing program on trucks hauling freight in and out of the port. In essence the court has ruled the port went too far in its stipulations that trucking companies were required to sign in order to qualify to haul cargo in and out of the port.

In another case, six trucking companies in two law suits have sued Los Angeles and the Port of Los Angeles Harbour Commission for abuse of powers in approving construction of a $500 million Burlington Northern Santa-Fe 153-acre rail yard Southern California International Gateway Project near the port.

And not to be left out, the City of Long Beach is also seeking injunctions to prevent the rail yard project moving ahead, asserting the project is detrimental to West Long Beach residents, adding that the project’s impact on the health of nearby schools and homes ‘is expected to be devastating’.


Not surprisingly, the Port of Los Angeles said it had “no comment” on matters before the courts.


With container traffic topping 2.3 million TEUs in 2012, the Port of Oakland had its best year ever, even if it was up only 0.1% on the total in 2011. In fact, Oakland has been edging up slowly after declines from 2007–2009. The container-only port bounced back in 2010 with a 13.9% lift to 2.3 million TEUs and in 2013 is up 1.3% through April.

As the fourth-busiest container port in the nation, Oakland has 10 terminals with 20 deep-sea berths and 35 container cranes, plus two intermodal rail facilities.

A major $1.2 billion development of the Oakland Army Base is underway with substantial completion of rail access improvements and the Manifest Yard expected by June 2015, along with substantial completion of a Unit Train Support Yard. The total project has its own industrial development team led by Prologis, Inc. and the California Capital & Investment Group to create trade-related facilities focussed on enhancing and improving the port.

Meanwhile, Oakland is the first port on the West Coast to install a maritime visibility sensor. It has been located at the Ben E. Nutter Terminal used by the Evergreen Marine Corporation and will help seafarers safely navigate San Francisco Bay in foggy or low visibility conditions.


The major port of Oregon dropped overall tonnage by over 1mt in 2012 to 11,205,154 tonnes and that was down 8%, but still a far cry from the heftier totals above 11.8mt immediately before and after 2009 when shipments bottomed out at 9.3mt.

A union jurisdictional squabble over the handling of refrigerated containers — now settled by the courts — helped trim container movements to 183,203 TEUs in 2012 and that was a drop of 8% on the previous year. Mineral bulk, largely potash and soda ash dropped to 4.4mt was also down by 8% over 2011 totals. Grain has also been in a slow free fall and in 2012 topped 3.6mt, its lowest in almost a decade.

But, the Columbia River port is bouncing back with increasing auto volumes — Hyundai,Toyota and Honda imports and lately Ford exports to South Korea — at 284,138 units and the best totals in four years. Breakbulk was also up at 893,811 tonnes in 2012 but was languishing down almost 13% YTD through April 2013.

Infrastructure upgrades are expected to help in the recovery. The Kinder Morgan soda ash Terminal 4 facility is getting a new ship loader and conveyor section as part of a $9.5 million upgrade which also includes removal of an outmoded structure and dredging this September alongside the dock to maintain at 40-foot operating depth. A pair of aged cranes will also be removed from nearby Terminal 6.

The port also recently announced plans by terminal operators to expand facilities at the Auto Warehousing Company facility at Terminal 6 ($2.8 million in improvements) and the Columbia Grain facility at Terminal 5 (about $40 million spending on new storage, cleaning, transporting and inventory management systems). A major $11 million rail expansion at the port’s largest industrial park, South Rivergate, was completed in June and is now fully operational improving efficiency and export capacity.

Meanwhile, the port is in the midst of annexing West Hayden Island, which will give it 300 acres for future marine terminal development. And it is also marketing available acreage at Terminals 2 and 4 for new liquid bulk, breakbulk and/or bulk customers.


Responsible for almost $50 billion in international and domestic trade, the port moved a total 16.2mt in 2012, including 1.7 million TEUs of cargo.Top exports were oil seeds and grains ($2 billion), industrial machinery ($1 billion), and cereals ($636 million), while leading imports were industrial machinery ($7.3 billion), vehicles and parts ($6.4 billion) and electronics ($5.7 billion).

It has been a year since Tacoma won the Grand Alliance from neighbouring Port of Seattle and a busy year it has been. The Grand Alliance — NYK, OOCL, Hapag-Lloyd and ZIM — has been the catalyst for impressive growth in Tacoma with year to date figures through May this year showing a 31% growth spurt at 758,071 TEUs. There was almost a balance of imports (up 45% at 281,145 TEUs) and exports (up 38% at 213,482 TEUs).

Without the boost from the Alliance, however,Tacoma’s regular international volumes would be up a much more modest 3%. June numbers will probably be the last of the big gains for containers as July represents the anniversary benchmark month for the Alliance’s move over from Seattle.

Auto imports (up 5.2% at 63,625 units), intermodal lifts (up 38% at 198,491), and log exports (up 53.7% at 207,500 tonnes) added to the good news through May. However, grain exports, which took a beating in 2012 dropping over 1mt because of a poor harvest for corn and soy beans in the Midwest and Great Plains, languished even further YTD at 1.2mt, down 49% over the same five months of 2012.

The port is adding a 100 gauge crane rail to its Pier 3 at Husky Terminal to accommodate larger cranes; is redesigning its Pier 4 to align better with Pier 3 and provide continuous berth space; and is preparing rail design improvements to serve future developments on the Blair-Hylebos Peninsula, the future site of Targa Sound Terminal’s petroleum rail logistics facility.The port signed a lease in January with Targa for expansion of the former Kaiser Aluminum site and when operational by the end of the year the site will be the only petroleum handling facility actually on Port of Tacoma property although Targa and U.S. Oil have plants in the port area but on their own land.

On the environmental side, the Port of Tacoma has completed the Dick Gilmur Shoreline Restoration and Kayak Launch, and the Place of Circling Waters (a former gravel pit) habitat sites with public access.The port is also busy designing a 40 acre wetland habitat with stream and pond features by reconnecting more than a mile of Clear Creek to its former flood plain and wetlands.

Tacoma, Seattle and Port Metro Vancouver over the border in Canada have also joined together in a Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy designed to reduce diesel emissions by 75% per ton of cargo by 2015 and 80% by 2020. Combined with projected cargo growth in the three ports, this will result in overall reductions of 70% by 2015 and 75% by 2020.


Seattle continues to be Washington State’s busiest container terminal with total throughput for all cargoes of 20,046,323 tonnes in 2012. But, that figure was the lowest in the past three years and over 2.8mt down on its 2011 performance.

TEUs at 1,885,680 in 2012 were the lowest since 2009. Poor crops pushed grain exports to their worst total in a decade at 3,161,013 tonnes and petroleum settled at 620,587 tonnes, another dismal performance looking back over the past decade. Only molasses showed some spark at 74,831 tonnes and that was the best level of the decade.

The loss of the Grand Alliance container service to rival Port of Tacoma hasn’t helped the statistics and the recent news that Moody’s Investor Service had downgraded the port for its poor fiscal position, which it said was likely to get worse, was seen as yet another challenge.

“The global competition for our port-related jobs in Puget Sound is real,” said Port Commissioner Bill Bryant late in June. “This is validation of that. It’s not serious unless we ignore it. It’s a wakeup call.”

But, don’t write off the Port of Seattle just yet. It has welcomed the United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) to its harbour since May joining with China Shipping Container Lines (CSCL) and bringing two 4,250 TEU ships to the service. CSCL will also upgrade their Asia Pacific vessels to that size bringing six in total to the port.

Last year, SSA Terminals added three more Super Post Panamax cranes to its fleet at Terminal 18 allowing it to handle the largest container vessels in the world. And Total Terminals International and Hanjin Shipping Co. recently signed a ten-year lease extension for Terminal 46, another of three facilities in the port that is ‘big ship ready’ with 50 foot channel depth to the berths and Super Post Panamax cranes ready to handle the boxes.

The port is a major financial contributor in a project that removes an elevated highway along its waterfront and the world’s largest tunnel boring machine Bertha will begin construction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct in its place this summer.

The Port of Seattle is a member of Green Marine, the largest voluntary environmental program for the maritime industry in North America, and was the first outside the Great Lakes ports to do so. The programme addresses nine key environmental issues such as noise, dust and light. Seattle is also in the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy with Tacoma and Port Metro Vancouver.


At 124mt in 2012, Port Metro Vancouver in British Columbia continued to be Canada’s largest and most diversified port as well as being No. 1 in overall cargo volume on the West Coast of North America. And the pace is moving along in 2013 with YTD figures through March showing a 9% boost over the same three months of 2012 as the port gets back to pre-recession volumes.

Record container movements in 2012 topped 2.7 million TEUs and that was up 8% over the pace of 2011. Dry and liquid bulk shipments — largely coal, grain, potash and petroleum — reached a record 83.8mt. Breakbulk shipments jumped 4% to 16.7mt led by a 14% boost in raw log shipments at 8.4mt, while wood pulp climbed 3% to 1.4mt. Not to be outdone, automobile volumes were up 29% to 384,000 units in 2012. And cruise passenger numbers were up slightly at 820,000 with 60 cruise ships using shore power last year.

Port Metro Vancouver is the most diversified port in North America in terms of cargo sectors, trading partners and import- export balance. But, being No. 1 comes at a price. Environmentalists and other activists have been giving the port a hard time in recent months over plans to double the capacity of a Kinder Morgan oil pipeline through the Inner Harbour of Vancouver.

And there’s been mounting opposition to anything coal with public angst over a recent proposal to barge coal down the Fraser River to Texada Island in the Strait of Georgia for transshipment onto ocean going vessels heading for Asia. The proponent, Fraser Surrey Docks, wants the business as its TEU count has dropped away of late as ships get too big for the up- river facility.

The port has approved a capacity increase of Neptune Bulk Terminals to lift its coal handling by 6mt to 18.5mt a year. There seems to be some fear that Vancouver might even become the major coal export port in all of North America — protestors have been warning cruise ship passengers of this possibility recently unaware that it’s a title the port has already held for years.

Westshore Terminals, the busiest coal export facility in all of North America, and situated at Roberts Bank in the port’s outer harbour, recently completed an $110 million equipment upgrade project that took its capacity from 23.5 to 33mt a year. A further multi-year $225 million investment in new equipment and replacing aging stacker-reclaimers and a shiploader has been announced for phased startup in 2014 and that will enhance efficiency even further.

The port has been more public and in the news than for many years. “Over the long term, we believe that our success and competitiveness will depend on our willingness to listen, to be open to new ideas and new approaches, and to work together to create a common vision,” says Robin Silvester, Port Metro Vancouver CEO and President. The port shares its space with about 16 different municipalities and is constantly seeking ways to engage with them while improving the port and the region’s long-term sustainability.

With over $4 billion in port improvements and transport infrastructure upgrades under way or planned, Port Metro is involved on multiple fronts from road upgrades to rail overpasses, while tenant terminal operators have a myriad of infrastructure and equipment projects stretching well into the future.

In a busy green calendar, Port Metro Vancouver is part of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy with Seattle and Tacoma.


Prince Rupert moved a record 22.2mt of cargo in 2012 — a 15% increase over 2011 — and up seems to be the only place to go for the statistics. Overall profitability has also improved and President & CEO, Don Krusel, says “our zeal for competitiveness is undiminished,” as the port is committed to becoming Canada’s trade solution as it switches its focus on Asia-Pacific economies.

Excitement and growth dominate the Port of Prince Rupert these days as it braces for a burst of liquefied natural gas projects totalling over $20 billion in investment if all go ahead. Two projects — Prince Rupert LNG and Pacific Northwest LNG — have a potential annual capacity of more than 30mt combined.The cause is being championed by the B.C. Provincial Government as a jobs catalyst and the future saviour of the provincial coffers.

The sole container mover, Fairview Terminal topped 500,000 TEUs for the first time in 2012 and retains its title as the fastest growing container terminal in North America. At 564,856 TEUs, Fairview increased 37% over its 2011 performance.

Bulk shipments through Ridley Terminals also had a good year in 2012 with steelmaking coal up 10% at 6.9mt and energy coal up 27% at 3.2mt.

Petroleum coke soared 75% to 1.4mt. In grains, wheat dipped 5% to 3.4mt and barley dropped 38% to 306,478 tonnes, while canola jumped 21% to just over 1mt. Raw logs dropped 36% to 324,270 tonnes despite the continuing recovery of the British Columbia forestry industry.

Cruise passenger numbers have been in decline since 2008 with the contraction of the Alaskan cruise market, but now even that appears to be on the rebound, says the port.

Work is underway on the $90 million Ridley Island road and rail utility corridor which could see a potash export facility built and other marine uses, adding to the overall excitement about growth in the port.


Increased export demands led to the construction of a new storage export facility, which opened in April of 2012. AGP exported more than 1.2mt (million metric tonnes) of dry agricultural products last year, and over 700,000 metric tonnes of dry agricultural products have been exported through June of 2013. Vessel calls have averaged around 25–30 per year and an increase is expected this year as a result of the facility completion.


Partnering with Sims Adams Recycling in Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbors Iron ore is a raw material that doesn’t require any chemical processing and it’s one of the cleanest bulk products around. It is the most essential ingredient in the production of steel. SA Recycling (SAR) is a joint venture between California scrap processor Adams Steel and the global leader in metals recycling, Sims Metal Management. In March 2013, the company exported its first 50,000- tonne shipment of iron ore, the first of its kind in the Port of Long Beach in over 40 years. Since then, SAR has exported an average of 53,000 tonnes of ore on each of seven vessels. PST, as stevedore, handles all the loading aspects of this cargo. PST’s crane operators have been trained to drive the client’s 80-tonne capacity Gottwald crane. Other equipment used by PST is a Caterpillar D-8 Dozer, which is needed throughout the operation to spread out the cargo in the holds (perhaps the most difficult part of loading scrap steel, as it operated mostly by feel). On the vessel side PST averages 9,500 tonnes per shift when loading and can load a 55,000dwt vessel in three days.


The iron ore is currently sourced by CML Metals from the mines in California and Utah. However, SAR plans to receive ore from Nevada as well. The iron ore is once again a viable commodity to export due to the continuous need by the Asian steel industries and the current market value. Many of the Southwestern mines previously closed have once again become viable businesses. SA Recycling expects to export over 1mt in 2013 and up to 2mt in 2014. Projections are even higher for 2015. Iron ore is a natural fit for SAR’s facility in Long Beach and also allows the port to expand its core business with its leading trade partners. Nationwide, exports are on the rise which helps grow trade and increase jobs which strengthens the US economy.
Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals writes new chapters in bulk handling


The Port of Grays Harbor, on the US Pacific Northwest coast, is a small port with a long history. Together with Grays Harbor personnel, AG Processing, Inc. and the local ILWU labour force, Pasha Stevedoring & Terminals (PST), a California-based operation, has helped the port recapture its past glory. In its heyday during the early part of the 19th century the port handled mostly forest products: longs, lumber, pulp and paper. Although forest products remain a part of the bulk cargo mix, dry agricultural products are now one of the leading exports. More than one-third of the soybean meal exported by the United States leaves from Grays Harbor, destined for ports in the Philippines, Malaysia, China and Australia.


Vessel size and type of commodity influence loading techniques. When loading soybeans and corn, it is important that the product is relatively flat inside the hatch or it could shift during the voyage. In some cases two types of products are loaded into a single hatch. This requires a technique known as a Kobe separation. The first product is poured into the hatch. A bulldozer is then lowered into the hatch to level the product. After removing the bulldozer tarps are placed over the product followed by plywood. The second product is then poured into the hatch. An interesting process to watch!
Dry bulk key area of growth for Transmarine 

Celebrating its 75th year, employee-owned Transmarine Navigation Corporation is a leading bulk cargo shipping agency in the United States. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, it has US offices on the US West Coast, the US Gulf and in Hawaii. Its dry bulk activity consists of its established market position, with grain exports from the Columbia River along with a rising volume of solid fuel, sulphur and other dry bulk commodities from US Gulf, California and Puget Sound ports.

Transmarine delivers value-creating agency service by employing a different model than its competitors: while some companies concentrate their expertise in the office and send entry-level personnel to vessels,Transmarine’s boarding agents are trained veterans with an equity stake in the firm, placing experience and expertise aboard the vessel. These agents are backed by highly experienced operations mangers and senior management.

The role of an agency divides into the routine and the exceptional. Routine agency tasks are not dramatic, but performing them poorly results in costly delays and blinding confusion for vessel owners and cargo interests; performing them with reliable consistency creates savings and clarity for the company’s clients. However, it is in the exceptional issues when an agency’s expertise and collective experience produce value for the client far beyond the cost of the service.

The agent needs to communicate constantly with the vessel operator and the cargo interests to report precise operational facts and also to illuminate possible complications to people in distant time zones who are perhaps unfamiliar with local practices. Empathy is essential. The agent has to communicate a situation and its nuances, provide advice with the aid of his experience and expertise, receive instruction, and act with promptness.

It is vital that an agency have a solid relationship with the people who work at the dry bulk terminals in the port, relationships that come from years of living and working in the same community, sharing similar concerns and interests. Agents also have to have a proper and courteous conduct when dealing with port authorities on behalf of principals. Operational knowledge, communications skills, clear and efficient accounting — these are all agency essentials. But agency is a people business, where honesty and decency are the fundamentals.

Transmarine’s clients form a roster of the world’s most prestigious and recognizable companies in bulk shipping, commodities trading, grain houses, industrial conglomerates, oil companies (petcoke and sulphur), cement makers, and electricity generation utilities — from all continents.

Transmarine’s coverage map includes every dry bulk port on the US West Coast along with the ports in Texas, Louisiana, the lower Mississippi River and Hawaii.

Transmarine is pre-eminent in the tanker market, but its dry bulk vessel volume is growing on all fronts: number of calls, amount of revenue and proportion of calls. Dry bulk is a key growth area for Transmarine. The company does not perform liner container work.

Competitors are well-known dry bulk agencies. All seem to have a regional concentration and try to expand their service offerings into other dry bulk regions of the country.

Transmarine’s challenges relate to the competitive conditions of the ports and regions in which it operates, the environmental, labour and economic issues reported in the press. The poor condition of the dry bulk freight market makes cost control an ever higher priority and funds management a crucial factor in the survival of an agency. The agency that is highly disciplined with funding is performing a vital service for his principal and all other industry stakeholders.

Founded in 1938,Transmarine just became an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) majority-owned company, as from 1 October 2012. The company believes it is the first shipping agency to achieve this. There are 75 employee/ owners across offices in: California: Long Beach, San Francisco, Stockton, San Diego; Oregon: Portland;Washington: Seattle, Bellingham,Anacortes;Texas: Houston; Louisiana: New Orleans; and Hawaii: Honolulu.

Dry bulk contacts are: Peter Whittington, CEO; Jim Papp, President; Mark Hanson:VP Dry Cargo Marketing; Patrick Dunbar: Solid Fuels Marketing; Phil Brotherton: Breakbulk Marketing; Ivan Nikolic: California Dry Bulk Marketing; Scott Sullivan: Puget Sound Marketing; Tony Anderson: Columbia River Dry Cargo Marketing; Kyle Munson:Texas District Manager; and Paul Clancy: Louisiana District Manager.