port of Los Angeles

The 6 Busiest Container Ports in the U.S.

With the largest GDP of any country in the world, the U.S. sees an enormous amount of activity pass across its borders. Most of this activity – over 43 million containers per year – is handled at the seaports of the nation. Here are sixof the largest ports in America, each of which handles in excess of 1.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) annually.

Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach – Far outstripping the second place finisher on this list, the combined LA/LB port handles an amazing 14 million containers per year. The port is expected to grow significantly in 2016 with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal. It is an industry favorite port regularly named as the best port in North America and has earned kudos from the environmental movement for its Green Port initiative.

Port of New York/New Jersey – This port manages the movement of over 5.5 million containers and almost 1 million automobiles into and out of the “Capital of the World.” Though the port is struggling with outdated infrastructure and the still unrepaired damage from Hurricane Sandy, it remains the busiest port on the Eastern seaboard. As these issues are addressed and the port updates its PPMX infrastructure, look for it to recapture much of the European cargo that has rerouted into ports such as Cleveland in the near future.

Port of Savannah – With its newly installed Super-PPMX cranes, this port is surely looking to move into second place on this list with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal. Currently, the port handles over 2.5 million TEUs and is the fastest growing port in the U.S. It is also known as “America’s Retail Port” because of the large distribution centers built there by such companies as WalMart, Lowe’s, IKEA and The Home Depot.

Port of Oakland – Located along 20 miles of prime waterfront on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, this port struggled for a while with environmentalists and with stiff industry competition – it was once the second busiest container port in the world but has dropped to the fifth busiest in the U.S. alone. Still, a $1.2B upgrade that includes the world class Global Trade & Logistics Center has primed this port for the coming post-Panamax decade.

Port of Norfolk – The original deepwater port – it’s still the deepest, by the way – on the Eastern seaboard, the port of Norfolk has gone through several iterations in its lifetime. The most recent made Norfolk and her sister ports of Newport News and Portsmouth the first completely PPMX ready ports in the East. Last year, that ability allowed the three to handle almost 2.5 million TEUs. The port has also been instrumental in developing an unprecedentedly effective intermodal rail connection that makes it a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

Port of Houston – No list of top U.S. ports would be complete without at least one on the “Third” Coast. The port of Houston fits the bill nicely. Due to its handling of energy supplies, it is often recognized as “North America’s Most Irreplaceable Port” but it also handles almost 2.2 million TEUs. These two facts combine to make Houston one of the most profitable ports in the nation. The port expects to spend over $3B in capital expenditures in the coming decade to maintain this superiority.

For detailed information, maps and contact information for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, be sure to download a free copy of our Comprehensive Port Service Guide.