Long Beach Handling More Cargo

Staff Reporter

More than a year after Maersk Sealand jilted the Port of Long Beach for its sister port in Los Angeles, the Long Beach facility seems to be recovering.

After reporting declines through August, the Port of Long Beach showed year-to-year growth in container traffic in September the first month that can be compared with 2002 figures that don't include the A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S operation.

Long Beach traffic for September totaled 379,811 20-foot equivalent units, up 11.6 percent from the 340,339 TEUs moving through the port in the year-earlier period. L.A. handled 622,729 TEUs in September, up 5.7 percent from the year-earlier period.

"Now that the Maersk's numbers are out of last year's numbers, you can really see how well our remaining terminals are doing," said Art Wong, a spokesman for the Long Beach port.

So far this year, Long Beach has moved 3.4 million TEUs, about 100,000 less than it did for the like period in 2002.

The loss of Maersk Sealand was a blow to the port, which has always played second fiddle to L.A.'s larger operation. "When you have a carrier like Maersk leaving, you always look for a carrier to replace the volumes," said Eric Caris, the L.A. port's assistant marketing director. "(Long Beach) has been successful."

The Maersk Sealand departure from Long Beach left it with two empty terminals totaling 200 acres. But a number of moves by other tenants have mitigated its impact.

Hanjin Shipping Co. upgraded from its 170-acre terminal in Long Beach to a 375-acre terminal on Terminal Island (also part of the Long Beach facility), which was formerly a Naval shipyard.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. moved from L.A. to Hanjin's old terminal in December. About two months later, Matson Navigation Co. left L.A. for a 70-acre terminal in Long Beach.

Then China Ocean Shipping Co. and "K" Line expanded into Maersk's old terminal facilities.

Long Beach is currently conducting environmental impact reports to develop another 160 acres on Terminal Island, where officials would like to have a new facility constructed and a tenant in place in 2006.

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