January 23, 2023
In Puget Sound, big ships coming and going are a daily part of marine traffic. But how much do you really know about the marine cargo that keeps the economy of our region afloat?
The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a joint marine cargo operating partnership between the Port of Tacoma and the Port of Seattle — the first of its kind in North America. This innovative model has proven to be an economic and operational success, making the combined north-south harbors the fourth largest container gateway in the United States, with:
Considering the impact of maritime cargo impact on the region, here are a few fast facts that you probably did not know about. But maybe you should.
The TEU stands for twenty-foot equivalent unit, a standard that can be used to measure a ship’s cargo capacity. One TEU is 20 feet long and 8 feet tall.
Ports and ships around the world are measured by their TEU volume, a metric that is used around the world. An 18,000-TEU ship can carry 23 rows of containers and (depending upon the cargo), could draw up to 52 feet. As you will learn below, ships are getting larger and The Northwest Seaport Alliance is well-equipped to handle them.
The largest port in the world, Shanghai, China, handles about 30 million TEUs annually.
A little closer to home, here are the top Ports in the U.S. by their 2017 annual container volume:
|1. Los Angeles /Long Beach||16 million TEUs|
|2. New York/New Jersey||3.2 million TEUs|
|3. Savannah, Georgia||4.1 million TEUs|
|4. The NWSA (Seattle and Tacoma)||3.7 million TEUs|
Seattle’s Elliott Bay is a naturally deep harbor that is 600 feet deep and does not require regular maintenance dredging (like many other ports).
That means that if the Space Needle sat on the bottom of the harbor, the tip would be barely poking out of the water.
The Terminal 86 grain facility in Seattle exports about 5 million metric tons of grain a year.
But what exactly does that mean? Let’s do the math using the following illustration that may help put it in perspective:
Therefore, 5 million metric tons would make enough Twinkies to circle the Earth about 224 times.
The Northwest Seaport Alliance facilities can handle some of the biggest ships in the world — like the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, the largest cargo vessel to visit the United States that arrived Feb. 29, 2016, at the North Harbor's Terminal 18.
Learn more about The Northwest Seaport Alliance’s recent Economic Impact Report and the Port’s 2019-2023 Maritime Budget Blueprint that includes the most significant investments in maritime infrastructure in a generation.
January 23, 2023
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