We recently had the pleasure to be invited on a tour of the Port of Los Angeles. Taken by boat, the tour lasted about an hour and a half and brought us close to some of the most impressive facilities the United States has to offer. We enjoyed it so much, it made sense to share what we learned — and give you a view of some of the facilities.
About The Port Of Los Angeles
The port complex occupies 7,500 acres of land and water along 43 miles (69 km) of waterfront. It is the busiest container port in the United States, and also the largest U.S. port and the fifth largest port in the world.
To give an idea of the scale of operations at the port, consider this: In 2013, just shy of eight million standard 20-foot containers moved through the port. This makes it the number-one freight gateway in the United States. The value of goods traded include China/Hong Kong ($136 billion), Japan ($40 billion), South Korea ($16 billion), Taiwan ($12 billion), and Vietnam ($11 billion) — and total trade volume is approaching half a trillion dollars, at about $480B (projected for 2014).
Products imported are, of course, vast and cover just about everything you can image. The top imports include furniture, automobile parts, apparel, electronic products, and footwear. The bad news is that our exports are a little bit less impressive: Topping the list of exports is waste paper and scrap metal. To make matters worse, while containers arrive in the Port fully loaded, they depart about half-full. Our export industry needs a revitalization, and fortunately Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti “gets it.” The Mayor’s office is launching a number of programs focused on enhancing our International trade, including trade missions to Mexico and China, backing trade shows, promoting investment, and policies that develop both local and regional business.
Many of these activities should also reinvigorate the U.S. cruise passenger and tourism industry, which has suffered over the past decade.
Planning For Future Growth
On our tour, we got really close to some of the port’s latest innovations, including new cranes and loading facilities for automobile, breakbulk, container, dry and liquid bulk, and warehouse facilities. It’s hard to describe the size of the ships and the equipment. Standing next to it is another matter entirely — that’s when the scale of these eight-story-tall structures really sink in.
The Port has recently invested extensively to continue supporting its role as the largest import and export hub of the United States. Equipment upgrades have taken place, making it possible for the massive container ships of the future. Cranes have been hoisted onto new footings, making it possible for them to service the new, taller ships — such as the massive Maersk ship shown to the right, over 1,300 feet (nearly 400 meters) in length and carrying 18,270 20-foot container equivalents. The Port waterways have been dredged, adding the additional depth necessary to allow these huge ships into the channel. And new power delivery systems are now in place, making it possible for ships to switch entirely to shore power, dramatically cutting back on pollution when ships are docked.
During our tour we also got a glimpse of a few landmarks, including the USS Iowa, now a museum attraction open to the public, and the Port’s Fireboat #2. The fire-fighting system is made up of six pumps delivering 31,000 gallons per minute at a range of 550 feet. It’s one of the most powerful fire boats in the world today.
Seeing the Port from its own waterways was great fun — but more important, knowing how many programs are underway to revitalize U.S. trade is both refreshing and motivating. Hyrax International is all about Global enterprise: Seeing this kind of dedication to International growth is inspiring. It’s the right stuff to help push the U.S. economy back toward a healthy place.