For most ports on the U.S. West Coast, late 2014 and early 2015 was a year of seemingly-unending congestion and slumping cargo traffic. Not so at California’s Port of Hueneme, which just reported its highest cargo year in its 78-year history.
According to Hueneme port officials, total tonnage for the fiscal year ending June 30 was up 9.5 percent year-over-year at 1.57 million metric tons. While it’s true a sizeable portion of that was general cargo and auto traffic, a niche for the port, there was container traffic in there too, port officials say. According to the port, produce traffic over the past 12 months — largely bananas moving in refrigerated container — was up 5 percent year-over-year.
It’s traffic that Hueneme officials say was at least in part diverted from other West Coast ports during the worst of the labor-related congestion and delays. And it’s traffic that officials say they’re going to fight to keep, now that congestion is easing and other Pacific coast ports are on the rebound.
“It was definitely fallout from the congestion at the other ports,” John Demers, Hueneme’s chief operations officer, told JOC.com Monday. “And we’re definitely in the competition to contain that business.”
Demers described the small port, about an hour north of the sprawling Los Angeles and Long Beach complexes, as a “niche port” known for moving vehicles, bulk agriculture and general cargo. Needless to say, it never experienced the full extent of the havoc the West Coast labor dispute wreacked at container-focused ports nearby.
However, not only do port officials claim it never felt the brunt of labor-related congestion, but they’re now saying Hueneme benefitted as a direct result of it.
Because of its size and focus, Hueneme has never had the trouble with truck turn times or container backlogs that other ports have had nearby.
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