New Container Alliances Shift Cargo Flows & Volumes in Our Region

If Bob Dylan wrote a song about the state of the today’s container shipping industry, it might be called “The Lines, They are a Changin’.”

In April, three new major carrier alliances started operating around the world. With these new alliances came new challenges to ports. The three alliances are:

  • THE Alliance: Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming, “K” Line, MOL and NYK Line,
  • Ocean Alliance: COSCO Shipping, CMA-CGM/APL, Evergreen and OOCL, and
  • 2M Alliance: Maersk/Hamburg-Sud, Mediterranean Shipping Company and Hyundai (slot charter partner).

While these alliances were formed to help the lines reduce costs and increase efficiency, they have also changed cargo flows at various terminals in Tacoma and Seattle. These changes have also created some operational challenges for ports, terminal operators and transportation providers.

SHIPPING LINE SHUFFLES: As part of the new shipping line alliances launched in April, Hapag-Lloyd ships, which have been calling at Washington United Terminals in the South Harbor, are now calling at Terminal 18 in the North Harbor.

To help mitigate these changes, The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) Operations Service Center is actively monitoring all gate activity at the impacted container terminals.

NWSA staff is addressing container congestion issues and also meeting with truckers, terminal operators and other impacted stakeholders.

Two major areas of container volume impacts and some congestion have been Terminal 18 in Seattle and Husky Terminal in Tacoma.

Here are some of the steps being taken to improve these situations:

  • SSA is opening its gates at Terminal 18 an hour earlier (7 a.m.)
  • Husky Terminal is opening its gates earlier in the morning and has also run some Saturday gates.
  • NWSA staff is working with the Seattle Police Department and the Tacoma Police Department to address terminal truck queuing issues.

The NWSA continues to work with its partners to explore additional improvements that could be made in the future.

Here are two ways you can keep up-to-date on these issues and developments:

  1. Find out more about what’s happening at Terminal 18, Husky Terminal and truck queuing issues here.
  2. Check the marine terminal websites directly for the latest information on their hours and service conditions.

For information on South Harbor (Tacoma) terminals, contact Tim Ebner, NWSA Operations Department, at 253-592-6719 or tebner@nwseaportalliance.com.

For more information on this situation in the North Harbor (Seattle), please contact Steve Queen, NWSA Operations Department, at 253-888-4412 or squeen@nwseaportalliance.com.