On a recent tour of SSA’s terminal in Oakland, we were able to see first-hand two cranes that were raised by 27′.  A third is currently under construction, while the fourth awaits its turn.

These cranes will be able to reach containers on the top tier of the new mega-ships. These ships are currently on rotation in the TransPacific trade, and these cranes will make the Port of Oakland one of the few ports in the US able to accommodate these large ships.


Last night, the Port of Oakland’s Board of Commissioners gave the final approval to turn 180 acres of the former Oakland Army Base into the largest in-port, state-of-the-art logistics center.

The port has partnered with CenterPoint Properties to develop a $52M logistics facility, which will, in Phase I, offer 440,000sqft of warehousing, cross dock and rail transload opportunities.

This logistics hub is a key component in the port’s long-term growth plans and will bring additional container volumes and jobs to the port.  For more information on this project click here.


Cranes Port of OaklandThe Port of Oakland is planning for the future by preparing for the mega ships and their inevitable calls on US West Coast ports.  These behemoth ships require taller cranes in order to reach the top layers of containers on fully loaded ships.  So, to be ready, the port has begun work on raising the height of four ship-to-shore cranes by 27 feet.

The process entails removing one crane at a time from service.  The crane will be braced while the lower legs are cut, removed and replaced with extensions.  The entire process is expected to take nine weeks per crane.

Modern engineering is a fascinating thing.


The Port of Oakland handled a record number of containers in 2016, 1.83M TEU’s. Both exports and imports were up, 10.5% and 4.7% respectively, compared with 2015.  ship-at-dock-10

Port management is preparing for further growth with the development of a logistics center and a “cool port” refrigerated warehouse.  These two projects will add nearly 750,000 square feet of warehousing space within the port property.

Additionally, in order to accommodate the mega-ships now calling North American ports, six cranes will be raised by 26 feet.  Work will begin on the cranes in April of this year.

2017 will be an exciting and growth-spurred year in Oakland.




karen-at-petf-sept-2016Devine has a seat at the table for the Port of Oakland’s Port Efficiency Task Force.  In fact, our own Karen Vellutini is leading the task force’s Appointment System committee.  


To combat some of the challenges the port has faced over the past few years (terminal consolidations and closures and labor disruptions and shortages), port executives approached industry stakeholders to help identify goals, facilitate change and move progress forward.  


For more than a year, the task force has gathered with the goal of improving the port’s throughput. Initially, the group identified four hot buttons for the task force to address:  Extended hours, appointment system, metrics, and a grey chassis pool.  Here is a brief update of where the task force is on these issues: 


Extended hours:  This committee focuses on the need, preferred hours, market acceptance and cost of extended hour terminal gates.  They surveyed the industry to develop a blueprint. SSA then used this plan to develop its extended hours program, which commenced in June 2016. Additionally, TraPac is experimenting with limited service night gates two days per week. It is important to note, SSA’s extended hours program has become a model for other terminal operators around the country.  Expect more on this subject in the months ahead.


Appointment system:  To even out truck flows and migrate to a more planned operation, initiating appointments for import grounded containers became a necessity.  Everport had a system in place, SSA implemented their appointment system in June 2016, and TraPac expects to pull the trigger on one in the next couple of months.  The next steps are to expand the appointment window, streamline the appointment-making process and even integrate terminal appointment software with truck dispatch software.


Performance Metrics:  The goal of the metrics group is to identify where we are in terms of truck turn times, vessel/terminal/container idle times, chassis availability and customs clearance with the intention of developing performance standards and expectations.  Dray Q, the port’s bluetooth technology, goes a long way in determining truck turn times both in the queue and inside the terminal.  


Grey Chassis Pool:  A grey chassis pool makes chassis “brandless” for users, meaning the chassis does not have to match the provider dictated by that ocean carriers.  Users are free to use whatever chassis is available and in good order.  The proper billing is then coordinated behind the scenes by the chassis providers. It was originally hoped this task would be the first checked off the list, but it is a much more complicated process than expected.  The chassis providers are working on a formal program for the New York/New Jersey market.  Once those details can be agreed upon by the various stakeholders, that plan can be applied to Oakland. 


While much progress has been made, there is still work left to do.  We will endeavor to keep you updated.


Last year, cargo interests in Oakland had about three days to adjust to the chassis in/out gate fees.  On the Wednesday after Memorial Day, we were informed there would be a gate fee for chassis starting the followingNight Operation SSA Monday.  


We protested.  We tried to negotiate.  We asked for more time.  All of our pleas fell on deaf ears. The charges moved forward.


A year later with much more notice, the terminals in Southern California announced the same thing. All of the sudden, everyone is up in arms and the Federal Maritime Commission gets involved. The port-wide fee is aborted in favor of individual terminal operators negotiating with the chassis providers.  


We know the ports of LA/Long Beach handle considerably more volume than does Oakland, but seriously???


Chris Lytle on DockChris Lytle took the helm at the Port of Oakland during a tumultuous time and has navigated Northern California’s international logistics industry through some rough waters.  In his three-year tenure, he has managed a major terminal consolidation, contentious west coast labor negotiations, a summer of labor shortages and the closure of one of the port’s largest terminals and transition of its cargo.


We have appreciated his steady hand and his consistent search for calmer waters, and we are thankful he and the port commissioners have agreed to another three year contact.


Let’s hope the next three years are smooth sailing. 


Ben Franklin Feb 2016By now, everyone knows Ports America will be closing their terminal in Oakland in short order. Here is an update of the latest developments:


Ports America’s Outer Harbor Terminal LLC filed for bankruptcy. The Port of Oakland accepted the early termination of their lease agreement.  The port will receive $6M in lease payments for February and March and $5.1M for clean up expenses.  To aid in a smooth transition, the port is giving the terminal operator an additional 30 days rent free. As a result, vessel operations will be extended through March 31st and terminal operations through the end of April.


85% of the cargo will find a new home at SSA’s Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT), thereby, increasing their volumes by nearly 70%.  So, what is SSA doing to accommodate this significant uptick in traffic?


They will offer Saturday gates for export containers in, “One Stop” import containers out, wheeled containers, refrigerated containers in and out, and empties in and out.  For those unfamiliar with a “One Stop,” if you have twenty or more containers on the same vessel, SSA will put them all in one stack served with a top pick versus in the ever-crowded transtainer rows. The trade off is a specific container cannot be selected. The driver receives the container at the top of the stack.  


Shippers Transport Express (STE), an SSA sister company, has plans to move approximately 2000 import containers per week from SSA to their yard in Oakland. The containers will be selected randomly. There is no charge to the cargo owner for these moves.  These dray offs will be in addition to the paid moves nominated and paid for by cargo owners.


SSA will take on additional acreage virtually next door to operate a depot for empty containers. Empty containers can be picked up from or returned to this depot.


SSA will offer night gates Sunday through Thursday.  Sounds good so far, right?  Well, here is the disappointing part…these night gates will ONLY service refrigerated cargo, which equates to 5-10% of their overall volume. It has been said SSA will review the night gates in a month’s time to see what other transactions should be added. 


With queues stretching for miles, turn times degrading to horrific levels, their import yard being so busy by 8:30am they begin closing entire sections, and export receiving windows narrowing to 2-3 days or less, in a month’s time, we will be buried under a mountain of unmoved freight.  We need additional services on the night gates now!


Yes, night gates are expensive, about $1400 per longshoreman per shift. The more services you offer on the night side, the more people needed to work the shift.  We get it.  But, there is also a cost…monetarily, reputation, migration of business to other gateways…not to expand these gates.


The Port of Oakland has approval to spend $1.5M to help subsidize these additional gates at a rate of $10,000 per gate. A reefer-only night gate is not getting them the bang for the buck that is necessary to keep cargo moving fluidly.  As such, port management is exploring increasing the per gate subsidy.  We support this idea and hope for a quick review and implementation.


Ben E Nutter (aka 7th Street, Marine Terminals, MTC, Seaside, STS, BENT, Evergreen) will close temporarily while it transitions from one stevedoring company, Seaside Transportation Services (STS), to another, Everport Terminal Service (ETS).

The closure will begin on Saturday, December 5th and is expected to last 2-4 weeks.  During this time, Evergreen’s vessels will call SSA.

The purpose of the closure is to upgrade computer systems and equipment.  One such upgrade will be Optical Character Recognition (OCR) cameras and portals.  This technology reads the container and chassis numbers and transmits the data to the gate clerks, thereby, increasing gate fluidity.

While there is never a good time for a terminal closure, we are concerned about the short holiday weeks ahead, the likelihood of regular longshore labor taking extended time off, the possible lack of enough skilled labor to work the yard, and the additional volumes and pressure on SSA.

The best plan of action is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.SONY DSC


RTGThe US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the Port of Oakland a $277,885 grant to upgrade cargo handling equipment at TraPac.  The funds will be used to retrofit four rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTGs aka Transtainers) and one top pick.
These upgrades will equate to a 90% reduction in the equipment’s carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide emissions as well as a 40% reduction in diesel particulates.



SONY DSCThe Port of Oakland has convened a Port Efficiency Task Force to tackle the port’s systemic issues.  Devine is honored to have a seat at the table.  Thus far, the task force has reviewed and made recommendations regarding the grey chassis pool, Saturday gates and a Central Valley container pool.
Another exciting project coming out of the task force is the development of technology to measure truck turn times.  It captures bluetooth signals and is the same technology used to estimate commute times.  We have all seen the freeway signs “24 Minutes to Downtown.”
The port is installing bluetooth readers on the streets and at the marine terminal gates. The readers will pick up bluetooth IDs anonymously. Alternatively, drivers or motor carriers can register, which will enable the tracking of specific trucks.
The data is continually processed through sophisticated algorithms to determine trucks in queue versus moving traffic.  It will even determine the specific queue in which the truck is waiting, as frequently the lines overlap.
The end result will be an aggregate, real-time, truck turn time.  These aggregate times will be available for all to see and will include the total truck turn time broken down into two segments, the outside-the-gate queue time and the ingate to outgate terminal transaction time. For registered users, this same information will be available on a truck specific basis.
It is currently a work in progress and is expected to go live in the first quarter of next year.
Kudos to the Port of Oakland for thinking outside the box and being the first port in the country to implement this important technology.


Coal in RailcarYou may have heard about a plan to export coal through Oakland, so let’s start from the beginning.

The Oakland Army Base (OAB) was a key military supply and personnel transit point from 1941 until the Army closed the base in 1993.  In 2003, the Army began transferring the land to the Port of Oakland and the City of Oakland in near equal portions.  Both the port and the city began to entertain development opportunities.

The Port of Oakland, governed by the Tidelands Trust, is restricted to maritime related functions and is developing a logistics and transload center to support their maritime operations.

The City of Oakland, not governed by the same trust, can use the property for any purpose. Through the years, we have heard proposals for movie studios, retail centers, car dealerships and other non-maritime uses. In the end, clear heads prevailed when city officials realized land for seaport operations in the state is limited.  An agreement was reached between the City of Oakland with California Capital and Investment Group (CCIG) to build the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT) specializing in transloading bulk commodities from rail cars to ships.

Enter the conflict…Apparently, there was no restriction in the agreement regarding the kinds of commodities acceptable, and CCIG has accepted a $53M investment from Utah’s Community Impact Fund on behalf of Utah’s coal-producing counties.

When OBOT is complete in 2017, it is expected to handle 9 million tons of bulk commodities per year. Half of that may just be coal…unless the community can make a compelling case that the coal export program is a threat to the health and safety of area residents. Environmental groups say they have plenty of proof to show it would be.