Report Suggests Port of Seattle Consolidate, CEO Won’t Rule It Out

By Chris Daniels, April 16, 2014, King 5 News

A recently discovered report suggests the Port of Seattle’s marine operations are well below capacity, and it needs major improvements to stay competitive.


The report was obtained by KING 5 after a Public Disclosure Request to the Port of Seattle.


It was conducted by Kirkland Based Mercator International for a terminal operator.


The 11-page report documents Mercator’s analysis of the port’s maritime operations and says as of 2013, the Elliot Bay container terminal capacity utilization is estimate “to be just 38%.”


The document says the port needs improved on-dock rail, but it has been limited in its ability to improve, especially near Terminal 46.


“There is not sufficient width between the eastern boundary of T-46 and State Route 99 in which multiple tracks could be installed that could be used for the loading and unloading of intermodal railcars,” says the report.


The report goes on to say that the port needs dramatic and costly improvements to handle bigger ships. Ports in places like Prince Rupert, Canada, Southern California and the East Coast have been dredging and improving in hopes of handling bigger ships. The improvements were prompted by the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is expected in 2015.


A Port of Seattle spokesperson did not deny any of the numbers cited by the report.


Recently, the Port of Seattle, which billed taxpayers $73 million in 2012, has changed its tone on the future.  CEO Tay Yoshitani has suggested consolidation is something which ports like Seattle should consider.


The Port of Seattle issued a release last January announcing it was filing a “discussion agreement” with the Federal Maritime Commission that would allow them to gather and share information “to identify potential options for responding to unprecedented industry pressures.”


Does that mean a merger is possible?  The question was posed to Yoshitani.


He was at a celebration Wednesday honoring 50 years of container shipping in Seattle.


“Nothing is off the table,” said Yoshitani. “The shipping lines are consolidating to form alliances, and it might be worthwhile for the ports to look at it.”


He declined to shed any new light on the conversations with the Port of Tacoma, adding they were confidential.

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