At Tampa forum, industry leaders express support for 24/7 terminals

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By Paul Scott Abbott, AJOTThe idea of around-the-clock operation of marine terminals has the backing of leaders of terminal operator, ocean carrier and port authority sectors.
Industry executives expressed their support for 24/7 terminals during the fourth annual Shifting International Trade Routes Workshop, co-sponsored by the American Association of Port Authorities and U.S. Maritime Administration, hosted Feb. 1-2 by the Tampa Port Authority. (For reception photos, please click here)
During a Feb. 1 workshop panel discussion featuring two leaders each from terminal operator, ocean carrier and seaport entities, Thomas J. Simmers, president and chief executive officer of Ceres Terminals Inc., said deploying “a better business model,” making most efficient use of an existing port terminal, including through around-the-clock operation, is a preferable option to building an all-new facility.
“Ships work 24/7,” Simmer said. “So should terminals.”
Responding to a follow-up poll of panelists by the American Journal of Transportation, Simmers’ 24/7 terminal idea earned three additional “thumbs up” signals – from Michael Hassing, chief executive officer and president of Ports America Inc.; Jerry A. Bridges, executive director of the Virginia Port Authority; and Shawn Ewen, South Atlantic district vice president of Zim Integrated Shipping Services.
The two remaining panelists – Craig Mygatt, senior director of trade and marketing for Maersk Line, and Richard Steinke, executive director of the Port of Long Beach – hesitatingly gave neutral hand signals and, after the discussion, told AJOT why they gave qualified responses.
Mygatt said he would favor 24/7 terminal operations only if normal labor rates could be paid throughout the day-and-night cycle, something he said “won’t happen,” while Steinke said he would “absolutely” back around-the-clock operations so long as there were enough cargo volume to keep workers busy at all hours.
During the panel discussion, Steinke, while noting that the Port of Long Beach is committed to $4 billion in infrastructure spending over the next decade, said, “You can’t build infrastructure just to build infrastructure. You must build smarter, not just bigger.”
Steinke and Virginia’s Bridges concurred that future terminal development must be environmentally sustainable and technologically advanced.
Much of the discussion throughout the day-and-a-half program focused on whether U.S. transportation infrastructure is prepared for increased cargo volumes anticipated as the economy rebounds and, in 2014, upon completion of Panama Canal expansion.
AAPA Chairman A.J. “Pete” Reixach Jr., executive port director and chief executive officer of Port Freeport, Texas, opened the workshop by citing the need for better federal funding for port facilities, harbor projects and road and rail connections and asked, “Are we ready?”
U.S. Maritime Administrator David T. Matsuda said the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration began a study last year to answer that question. While initial study findings are not due to be released until the second quarter of this year, Matsuda called the canal expansion “the biggest game-changer in transportation” since the 1956 introduction of intermodalism.
“We expect the Panama Canal expansion to spur innovation on the part of American logisticians,” Matsuda said.
Workshop host Richard A. Wainio, port director and chief executive of the Tampa Port Authority, opined, “Our ports are not ready,” adding, “If we don’t modernize our facilities soon, we will not lead in the 21st century, we will follow.
“We’re 20 years behind the curve,” added Wainio, who was born in Panama and worked 23 years in executive positions at the Panama Canal.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, particularly for East and Gulf coast ports that are anticipating more calls, including by larger containerships, as a wider canal opens up new opportunities for all-water r

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For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists. Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including [em]The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.[/em] A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.