NWSA container volumes increase 11% in November

Full imports surge 23% as the NWSA gateway continues to gear up for the holiday season

Reach stacker lifting cargo at a breakbulk terminal.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance handled a total of 301,932 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in November, a 11.3% increase compared to last year.

Import volumes through the Seattle and Tacoma harbors rallied in November with a 23.3% growth, compared to same month last year when the gateway experienced nine canceled calls. Shipper demand remains strong and is forecasted to remain steady through the end of the year.

The upturn in cargo volumes is welcome news as Husky Terminal in Tacoma recently finished its work on a new gate complex and truck staging area. The project is expected to speed up the entry process for trucks, while freeing up valuable real estate on the terminal for continued redevelopment. In addition, Pierce County Terminal began a crane heightening project to raise a total of four cranes. The project, targeted to be completed by the end of 2021, will further expand the gateway’s capability to handle larger container vessels serving the trans-Pacific trade today.  Four super-post-Panamax cranes are also expected at Terminal 5 in Seattle around April of 2021.

Total container volume for the year was down 13.5% compared to 2019. The NWSA handled 3,018,565 TEUs year to date. Loaded imports for the year declined 10.5%, while full exports decreased 13.2%.

For the domestic trade, our total year-to-date volumes are down 6.1%. Alaska volumes declined 7.2%. Hawaii volumes were down 0.3%.

Other cargo stats:

  • Breakbulk cargo volumes are up 9.3% year over year to 252,847 metric tons. A pair of reach stackers went into operation this fall, increasing our cargo-handling capability and operational efficiency at East Blair One Terminal in Tacoma. The new equipment has a lift capacity of up to 40 metric tons of cargo per machine or 80 metric tons of cargo when used in tandem.
  • Auto volumes year to date were 136,830 units, down 19.8% year over year.

View the November 2020 cargo reports: