A Strong Finish to 2023 for the NWSA

December Volumes up 13.5%, 2023 Full Exports Up 4.9%

Auto Units Up 96%

The NWSA had a solid end to 2023, with full international imports and exports both marking their fourth consecutive month of volume growth. Exports continue to lead the way, reaching their highest level since March 2021. Import volumes year to date were in line with the overall market, while exports continued their recovery compared with 2022, ending the year in positive territory.

December 2023 container volumes reached 263,171 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), with total volume increasing 13.5% over December 2022. Full imports for the month increased 3.4%, and full exports increased 44.6% compared to 2022.

2023 volumes declined 12.1% compared to 2022 to 2,974,416 TEUs, with full imports declining 13.7%. Full exports grew 4.9%.

Domestic container volume increased 0.4% 2023 compared to 2022. Alaska volumes increased 3.4%, and Hawaii volumes declined 12.3%.

Other cargo stats:

  • Total breakbulk volume decreased 5.3% for 453,249 metric tons YTD.
  • Auto volumes were 338,330 units, up 95.6% fueled by New General Motors business coupled with GLOVIS America’s consolidation of its KIA and Hyundai business in the gateway. Recovery in auto manufacturing since COVID and pent-up consumer demand for automobiles also contributed to the strong volume.

The NWSA continues work to ensure terminal infrastructure and capacity are ready when market conditions improve and to reach emissions reduction goals.

Infrastructure Development

Two all-electric super post-Panamax cranes and three hybrid RTG (rubber tire gantry) cranes arrived at Terminal 5 in the Seattle Harbor in December. The super post-Panamax cranes joined the four existing cranes currently in operation. Standing 316 feet tall with a boom outreach of 240-feet, the cranes are among the largest on the U.S. West Coast and will allow Terminal 5 to serve larger vessels, supporting containerized cargo growth and jobs for the region. Phase Two of the Terminal 5 Modernization Program is expected to be completed in Q1 2024. At full buildout, Terminal 5 will boast 185 acres with on-dock rail and an estimated 1.2 million TEUs of container-handling capacity.

Terminal 5 became our first international cargo terminal with operational shore power when the MSC Brunella plugged in last year.

The NWSA was awarded $54 million in grant funding from the 2023 Port Infrastructure Development Program. Funding will support the expansion of Husky Terminal in the Tacoma Harbor, further increasing the gateway’s global competitiveness and creating jobs. This builds upon the previous modernization of Husky Terminal that reconfigured the wharf and added eight super post-Panamax cranes to increase the terminal’s big ship handling capability.

Washington United Terminals (WUT) received two additional super post-Panamax cranes in June. The new ZPMC cranes boast a 24-wide container row reach, a lift above crane rail of 175 feet, and a lift capacity of 65 long-tons using a spreader and 100 long-tons with a cargo beam. The investment further expands on WUT’s capability to handle the larger vessels being deployed in the transpacific trade.

Emissions reduction

The NWSA will receive $12M to support the development of heavy-duty truck charging infrastructure. The shared electric-truck charging hubs will give drayage trucks serving our gateway accessible and abundant charging locations and support our decarbonization efforts.

NWSA Managing Members approved $9 million in funding for the final design phase of the future shore power installation at Terminal 18 in the Seattle Harbor. This includes $1 million of grant funding through the Washington State Department of Ecology. This appropriation is a step forward in furthering our efforts toward decarbonizing our gateway and reaching our commitment to zero-emissions from maritime activities by 2050 or earlier.

The Puget Sound Zero Emission Truck Collaborative ('the Collaborative') was launched. It is a multi-stakeholder group including community, industry, government, and other stakeholders to work on producing a 'Decarbonizing Drayage Roadmap'. The roadmap will outline strategies and opportunities in getting to our goal of zero emission drayage by 2050 or sooner.

View the December 2023 cargo reports: