Hanjin Shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach.

Hanjin Shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Reversing a slide at the end of last year, cargo shipments at the Port of Long Beach rose sharply in January, up 6 percent from December and up 8 percent from a year ago, port officials reported Thursday.

Nearly 299,000 twenty-foot equivalent cargo container units made landfall at the port in January, while more than 118,000 full cargo container units and 165,000 empty containers left the port, for a total of 582,689 container movements.

That was up from 548,929 container movements in December and from 536,188 container movements in January 2016. The year-over-year increase was notable, since container traffic had jumped 25 percent last January over the previous January.

“It was a tough benchmark, so we’re very happy with the way the new year is starting in Long Beach,” Board of Harbor Commissioners President Lori Ann Guzmán, said in a statement.

Growth at the shipping terminals was led by the Pier T terminal, operated by Total Terminals International, which is now owned by a subsidiary of Mediterranean Shipping Co. of Geneva, Switzerland, the world’s second-largest ocean shipping line. MSC's Terminal Investment Ltd. purchased a majority stake in Pier T following the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. last August.

The fallout from the Hanjin bankruptcy was the main factor behind the plunge in container volumes during the final third of 2016. Much of the cargo that was originally destined for Hanjin’s Long Beach terminal was diverted to other ports, especially the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, which saw huge corresponding spikes in container volumes.

The January figures from the Port of Long Beach would seem to indicate Total Terminals International has finally worked through the major shipping difficulties caused by the Hanjin bankruptcy.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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