Oakland unveils plans to grow post-pandemic

multiple cranes at sunset

The Port of Oakland has unveiled several projects to expand operations and help it through the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic uncertainty.

The plan, set out by the Port’s Maritime Director Bryan Brandes, includes a substantial expansion of its crane fleet and investment in cold storage logistics and refrigerated shipping to meet growing demand and enable it to handle the largest ships in the world.

The first step will be to complete and open the $52 million Seaport Logistics Center, which is on schedule for late-summer 2020.

That project is being run by CenterPoint, a company that specialises in logistics and warehouse facilities. CenterPoint will operate the Seaport Logistics Center once it is open for business.

The stated goal from the Port regarding the Seaport Logistics Center is to “strengthen Oakland’s role as a global trade gateway”.

The Seaport Logistics Center will join CoolPort, the Port’s cold storage facility designed to meet the growing demand for perishable goods.

This facility opened in November 2018 and is run by a collaboration between Lineage Logistics and Dreisbach Enterprises.

When asked about the importance of refrigerated storage and shipping, the Port said the greatest opportunity for business is in the “expanding Asian market” where demand for “high-quality US perishable agricultural exports” is increasing.  

The transportation of perishable goods, also known as the cold chain, is becoming increasingly important and could become one of the most important drivers of supply chain and maritime growth in the coming years.

It is being accelerated by the growing popularity of plant-based diets in Europe and North America, as well as China’s trade in meat.

Consequently, carriers see the sector as an indispensable part of the end-to-end offering, and this in turn means ports must accommodate, particularly as it has been suggested by Drewry that reefer shipping could be shielded from the worst effects of the pandemic.

Furthermore, the Port will also improve its mega-ship handling capability, most notably with the order of three ship-to-shore (STS) cranes from Chinese manufacturer ZPMC.

The order was made by SSA Marine, which operates the Oakland International Container Terminal, and the cranes will be delivered by the end of 2020 and operational in the first quarter of 2021.

As trade grows, so must the world’s fleet of containerships and ports’ ability to handle them. When asked the Port said it can already cater for ships of more than 18,000 TEU and will welcome three vessels of 19,000 TEU capacity later in 2020.

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