Together, the Port of Los Angeles and the neighboring Port of Long Beach comprise the San Pedro Bay port complex. The two ports handle more containers per ship call than any other port complex in the world. (The Port of Long Beach will also be profiled by FreightWaves Classics.)
The Port of Los Angeles markets itself as America’s Port®. It is the busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere.
Last Thursday, June 10, the Port of Los Angeles became the first port in the Western Hemisphere to process 10 million container units in a 12-month period. The 10 millionth container was loaded onto the CMA CGM Amerigo Vespucci, which is a ship in the port’s largest shipping line customer’s fleet.
Located about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles in the cities of San Pedro and Wilmington, the Port of Los Angeles is the number one port by container volume and cargo value in the nation, an annual ranking held consecutively since the year 2000.
As reported extensively by FreightWaves, it is one of many U.S. ports that is having severe congestion issues because of the veritable tidal wave of imports. As many as 25-30 ships at a time have been berthed off-shore waiting their turn to dock and unload their cargoes.
The first documentation of the area that now is the Port of Los Angeles was by the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. He explored the area at the northwest end of what is now San Pedro Bay on October 8, 1542. However, it was more than 225 years later (1769), when Spanish missionaries and officials began colonizing the coast of what later became California.
San Pedro’s natural harbor was utilized as a trading post by Spanish missionary monks. Spanish ships with provisions were met by the monks at the water’s edge. In 1805 the first American trading ship to enter the San Pedro harbor was the Lelia Bryd. The Spanish government had decreed that it was illegal to conduct trade with any other country, but because of the distance and loose regulations, trade with other countries took place in the area. In 1822 the independent Mexican government ended the Spanish restrictions on trade. That action led to a rapid increase in settlement and commercial ventures in San Pedro. When California became a U.S. state in 1848, San Pedro harbor was flourishing.
The Port of Los Angeles credits numerous politicians, businessmen and community visionaries for the success of San Pedro Bay. One who is singled out was Phineas Banning, who founded the city of Wilmington and was nicknamed the “Father of Los Angeles Harbor.” According to the port, “his entrepreneurialism and influence positioned the Port for future success as the maritime and trade center for a rapidly growing West Coast city.”
Banning improved the port’s shipping capabilities in 1871 when he paid for the harbor’s channel to be dredged to Wilmington to a depth of 10 feet and an initial breakwater was built between Rattlesnake Island and Deadman’s Island. That year the port handled 50,000 tons of shipping. Banning owned a stagecoach line with routes from San Pedro to Salt Lake City and Yuma, Arizona. He had also built a railroad line to connect San Pedro Bay to Los Angeles in 1868.
When Banning died in 1885, the port handled 500,000 tons of shipping. The Southern Pacific Railroad wanted the Port of Los Angeles to be located at Santa Monica rather than San Pedro. In 1893, it built the Long Wharf in San Monica. However, the Los Angeles Times and U.S. Senator Stephen White pushed for federal approval of San Pedro Bay as the Port of Los Angeles. White is often called the “Savior of the Bay.”
The issue was settled in 1897 when San Pedro was endorsed by a commission led by Rear Admiral John C. Walker (who was the chair of the Isthmian Canal Commission in 1904). With U.S. government support, breakwater construction began in 1899.
The harbor becomes official
Both Los Angeles and its harbor area experienced rapid population growth in the early 20th century. This led to the creation of the Board of Harbor Commissioners on December 9, 1907, about 10 years after White led the effort to designate the harbor as the city’s official port. thus marking the official founding of the Port of Los Angeles. Then the independent cities of San Pedro and Wilmington were annexed into the City of Los Angeles on August 28, 1909. This meant the Port of Los Angeles was an official department of the City of Los Angeles.
A number of different industries began in and around the port during that time period. Fishing fleets, canneries, oil drilling and shipbuilding created jobs and brought commerce and revenue to the Los Angeles area. This led the city to focus on port infrastructure and future development.
Dredging and widening of the main channel began in 1912. With the completion of major sections of the federal breakwater, the port was able to accommodate larger vessels. These improvements were significant once the Panama Canal opened in 1914. Because of its relative proximity to the canal, the Port of Los Angeles held a strategic position for international trade, as well as an advantage over ports further north on the West Coast.
Despite the fact that it had wanted the harbor in Santa Monica, the Southern Pacific Railroad completed its first major wharf at the port in 1912. During the 1920s, the port surpassed San Francisco as the West Coast’s busiest seaport. Then in the early 1930s, a huge expansion of the port was undertaken; a breakwater three miles out and over two miles in length was constructed. This outer breakwater was supplemented by an inner breakwater, which was constructed off Terminal Island. Docks for seagoing ships were built, as were smaller docks at Long Beach.
World War II
As a major port on the West Coast, the Port of Los Angeles was commissioned by the U.S. military to conduct war-time efforts only. It was a major embarkation point for the men fighting in the Pacific Theater, as well as the millions of tons of war materiel and equipment.
In addition, shipbuilding became a key port industry. All of the boat repair and shipbuilding companies located in and near the port assisted in the construction, conversion and repair of vessels for the war effort. More than 90,000 workers produced thousands of war-related vessels in San Pedro Bay shipyards. Following World War II, port officials again began focusing on the continued expansion and development of the port.
Up until the mid-20th century, ports received cargo in crates, pallets and small lots of varying sizes and shapes. Because of the lack of uniformity and security, unloading cargo was painstakingly slow and the frequency of damage, pilferage and loss of cargo was high.
Led by Malcom McLean and Sea-Land, the containerized cargo revolution began on the East Coast in the mid-1950s. Matson Navigation Company’s ship the Hawaiian Merchant delivered 20 containers to the port in 1959. This began the port’s shift to containerization. The port’s first container facility was built in 1960 at a cost of $1.8 million.
Intermodal containers can easily be loaded, sealed and shipped on vessels, railroad cars and trucks. Therefore, in today’s global economy, almost every manufactured product or its components are shipped in a container. Containerization is a key reason for the innovations in logistics and security that propelled the Port of Los Angeles to its national and global importance.
By 2013, more than half a million containers were moving through the Port every month.
As might be expected, the Port of Los Angeles is a major economic factor at local, regional and national levels. It is also one of Southern California’s key generators of jobs, commerce and tourism. In California, nearly 1 million jobs are related to the trade that flows through the port. It is estimated that one in nine jobs across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties is connected to the San Pedro Bay Port Complex (the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach). Moreover, the Complex has a national economic impact because it generates employment for nearly 3 million Americans.
The cargo that comes into the port represents approximately 20% of all the cargo that enters the United States. In 2019 the port’s top imports were “furniture, automobile parts, apparel, footwear and electronics.” That year, the port’s top exports were “wastepaper, pet and animal feed, scrap metal and soybeans.” The port’s top trading partners that same year were “China/Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan.”
The port is self-funded by revenues it earns from fees for shipping services and leasing of port property. The port has an AA bond rating, which is the highest rating given to a port that does not have taxing authority.
Facts and figures
The Port of Los Angeles covers 7,500 acres (4,300 acres of land and 3,200 acres of water). It has 43 miles of waterfront. The harbor’s main channel has a depth of 53 feet; it can accommodate the world’s largest container ships.
The port’s facilities include: nine container terminals, an automobile terminal, two break bulk cargo terminals, two dry bulk terminals, seven liquid bulk terminals and two passenger terminals; 82 ship-to-shore container cranes; and 116 miles of on-dock rail and six rail yards.
All of the container terminals are equipped with Panamax and post-Panamax cranes.
Today’s Port of Los Angeles
The Port of Los Angeles is the leading gateway for trade between the U.S. and Asia (particularly China, Japan and South Korea). The Port and its supply chain partners provide effective conveyance of cargo using modern marine terminal facilities that are able to accommodate the world’s largest ships; a workforce of skilled longshore labor; warehouse and trans-loading centers; a large and new drayage fleet; and rail facilities that offer speed-to-market access to major U.S. freight hubs.
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the largest ports in the United States, as measured by container volume.Is the Port of Los Angeles the biggest Port in the world? ›
It's the most cargo moved annually by a Western Hemisphere port. The port is the busiest port in the United States by container volume, the 19th-busiest container port in the world, and the 10th-busiest worldwide when combined with the neighboring Port of Long Beach.Why is the Port of Los Angeles so important? ›
The Port of Los Angeles is one of the world's busiest seaports and leading gateway for international trade in North America and has ranked as the number one container port in the United States each year since 2000.How much money does the Port of LA make? ›
Based in Los Angeles, CA, Port of Los Angeles Police is a medium-sized transportation company with 500 employees and a revenue of $453.0M.What are the 3 busiest ports in the world? ›
As the largest port in China, the Port of Shanghai is also the busiest port in the world.Who has the largest port in the US? ›
1. Port of Los Angeles. Located on the West Coast of the country, the Port of Los Angeles is the single biggest port in the USA. Last year, it moved more than 9.3 million TEUs, an awe-inspiring number even by global standards.Do the Chinese own the Port of Los Angeles? ›
Chinese state-owned enterprises hold ownership stakes in terminals at five U.S. ports. COSCO has established joint ventures at Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and CMPort holds a minority stake in a French firm's terminals at Miami and Houston.Who owns the Port of Los Angeles? ›
The Port of Los Angeles is a department of the City of Los Angeles (also known as the Los Angeles Harbor Department) and is governed by the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, a panel appointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles. Although the Port is a City department, it is not supported by City taxes.How efficient is the Port of Los Angeles? ›
Inefficient U.S. ports
According to the ranking, the West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the world's least efficient. Those two ports also handle 42% of all container trade from Asia.
How much does a Harbor Pilot make in the United States? The average Harbor Pilot salary in the United States is $107,884 as of October 27, 2022, but the salary range typically falls between $79,428 and $130,312.How much do Longshoreman make at the Port of Los Angeles? ›
How much does a Longshoreman make in Los Angeles, CA? The average Longshoreman salary in Los Angeles, CA is $66,678 as of October 27, 2022, but the salary range typically falls between $60,144 and $73,678.How deep is the water in the Port of Los Angeles? ›
Los Angeles port design
The Port of Los Angeles covers 4,300 acres of land and 3,200 acres of water along 69km of waterfront. With a water depth of 53ft, the port can accommodate the largest container ships in the world.
The Port of Savannah is the fourth busiest port in the US and just outside the world's top 30, with traffic of 4.35 million TEU. It is home to the largest single-terminal container facility in the Western Hemisphere and two deep-water terminals.What is America's 3rd largest port? ›
|Rank (by total trade)||Port name||Total trade|
|1||Port of South Louisiana||238,585,604|
|2||Port of Houston||229,246,833|
|3||Port of New York and New Jersey Port Newark||123,322,644|
|4||Port of Beaumont||94,403,631|
Port of Long Beach, California
The Port of Long Beach is the second port in the United States according to size and cargo volume throughput, and is the 21st busiest container port in the world. The port is a major gateway for the United States – Asian trade.
- Kandla Port. Located 90 kilometers from the Gulf of Kutch, the Kandla Port was built in the 1950s in the Kandla Creek area as the first export processing port in India. ...
- Mumbai Port. ...
- Chennai Port. ...
- Port Blair Port. ...
- Kolkata Port. ...
- Tuticorin Port. ...
- Cochin Port. ...
- Ennore Port.
As one of the busiest ports on the U.S. East Coast, Savannah handles approximately 80 percent of the ship-borne cargo entering Georgia. Specializing in automobile importing, Brunswick handles nearly all of Georgia's remaining shipping traffic.Which country has the busiest seaport in the world 2022? ›
1. CNSHG – Port of Shanghai (China) The port of Shanghai has been the busiest container port in the world for years.What are the 10 largest shipping ports in the world? ›
- Port of Shanghai, Shanghai China. ...
- Port of Singapore, Singapore. ...
- Port of Tianjin, Tianjin China. ...
- Port of Guangzhou Guangzhou, China. ...
- Port of Ningbo, Ningbo-Zhoushan, China. ...
- Port of Rotterdam Rotterdam, The Netherlands. ...
- Port of Suzhou. ...
- Port of Qingdao Qingdao, China.
The fastest-growing port is Nhava Sheva in Mumbai, India, with a 25.9% increase compared to 2020. Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) developed a multi-product Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in its owned freehold land of 277.38 hectares at Navi Mumbai.Who owns the largest ports in the world? ›
- Hutchison Port Holdings (Hong Kong, People's Republic of China)
- PSA International (Singapore)
- DP World (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
- APM Terminals (The Hague, Netherlands)
- COSCO (Beijing, People's Republic of China)
- EUROGATE (Bremen, Germany)
What is the largest and busiest kind of port? Seaports are the largest and busiest ports as they handle international trade and commerce. Hence, they have more terminals for handling cargo and passengers.What is the busiest waterway in the world? ›
The English Channel is the world's busiest waterway. Four hundred ships pass through the Dover Strait every day.Who owns America's port? ›
Founded in 1921, Ports America manages 13.4 million TEUs annually.What is the oldest port city in America? ›
St. Augustine, FL is the “Nation's Oldest Port” and those things are quite different.Who sold the Port of Long Beach to China? ›
In April 2019, COSCO Shipping-owned Orient Overseas (International) Limited announced that it would sell their Long Beach Container Terminal business to a consortium led by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners for $1.78 billion.How many Chinese live in Los Angeles? ›
Historically there has been a population of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. As of 2010, there were 393,488 Chinese Americans in Los Angeles County, 4.0% of the county's population, and 66,782 Chinese Americans in the city of Los Angeles (1.8% of the total population).Who owns the Port of New York? ›
The Port is owned by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and was established in 1921 to protect, promote and improve the Port between the two states.Does China own docks in California? ›
The Obama administration proudly signed the agreement in 2012 giving China control of America's second-largest container port behind the nearby Port of Los Angeles. One of the Trump administration's first big moves was to get the Communists out of the Port of Long Beach.
Port of Los Angeles Eclipses 10 Million Container Units | References | Port of Los Angeles.How long does it take to unload a container ship? ›
Just unloading the ocean vessel can take 1-3 business days, because many ships have more than 10,000 containers on board. An FCL (Full Container Load) shipment will be available for pickup after the container is unloaded and placed in the arrival port's container yard.How much do Fedex captain pilots make? ›
So, exactly how much can I earn as a FedEx Express pilot?
|Average: $208/hr||Average: $313/hr|
|Top: $237/hr||Top: $335/hr|
ZipRecruiter reports that the annual pay for 2022 for cruise ship captains is $54,229 per year. It also reports that annual salaries can be as high as $100,000 to as low as $17,500. Such a great fluctuation in salary is reflective of the skill level, years of experience, location, and cruise line.What is the difference between a captain and a pilot on a ship? ›
The captain stays in command and is ultimately responsible for the ship. A pilot may assume the conduct of the ship, but only with permission of the master. As both the harbor pilot and captain have the same goal — the safety of the ship — the relationship is mutually courteous and professional.Why do longshoreman get paid so much? ›
Import / export is extremely lucrative. Each container contains many thousands of dollars in each. Longshoremen are in a position to inflict a lot of damage on manufacturing, trading and insurance companies, and are well organized in labor unions to do just that if necessary to protect their positions.Where do longshoreman make the most money? ›
What are Top 10 Highest Paying Cities for Longshoremen Jobs.
What is the average salary for a longshoreman in California? The average salary for a longshoreman in California is $86,500 per year. Longshoreman salaries in California can vary between $23,500 to $216,000 and depend on various factors, including skills, experience, employer, bonuses, tips, and more.Can you drink tap water in port Angeles? ›
The water is safe to drink and use.What is the largest shipping port in California? ›
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the largest ports in the United States, as measured by container volume.
LAX Airport Shuttle provides service to and from the Los Angeles Cruise Ship Terminal at Los Angeles Harbor (San Pedro) and Carnival Cruise Line's new terminal at Long Beach Harbor.What is the main port in USA? ›
1. Port of Los Angeles. Located on the West Coast of the country, the Port of Los Angeles is the single biggest port in the USA.What is the busiest cruise port in the US? ›
|Rank||Port||2016 / 2017|
|1||Port of Miami||4,980,490|
|4||Port of Cozumel||3,636,649|
It is also one of the few ports in the country big enough to accommodate the biggest vessels in the world. However, despite being the two biggest ports in the US, combined Los Angeles and Long Beach would only be the ninth biggest port in the world falling considerably behind the major Chinese hubs.What is the busiest port in the world? ›
Port of Singapore, Singapore
Today, the Port of Singapore offers connections to over 600 other ports in 123 countries on six continents, with 130,000 vessels calling at the port annually. It is also the world's busiest transshipment port, transshipping around 20 percent of the world's shipping containers.
1. Port of Los Angeles, California. Also known as America's Port, the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) is one of the world's busiest ports and has sustained its rank as number one in North America for more than two decades with record volumes for containerized trade.What is the most popular port in the world? ›
- Avignon, France. Avignon, France. Courtesy of Cruise Critic kwebb23. ...
- Bora Bora. Bora Bora. ...
- Glacier Bay, Alaska. Glacier Bay. ...
- Vienna, Austria. Vienna, Austra. ...
- Singapore. Singapore. ...
- Kirkwall, Scotland. Kirkwall, Scotland. ...
- Flam, Norway. Flam, Norway.
Founded in 1921, Ports America manages 13.4 million TEUs annually. Canada Pension Plan (CPP) Investments has signed a definitive agreement to take over North America's largest marine terminal operator, Ports America.
St. Augustine, FL is the “Nation's Oldest Port” and those things are quite different.