Port of LA Executive Director: 2017 was the busiest cargo year in our history

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Pacific Merchant Shipping Association President John McLaurin prepares to introduce Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka.

   The Port of Los Angeles experienced the busiest year for container movement in its 110-year history, Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles revealed to a roomful of stakeholders Thursday during his annual “State of the Port” luncheon in San Pedro, Calif.
   At the invitation-only event, which was organized by the port in conjunction with the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, Seroka told the attendees that 2017 was monumental for the port.
   “Together, we’ve accomplished a great deal this past year,” he told more than 300 stakeholders during the luncheon, held at a hotel ballroom a few minutes’ drive from the port.
   “It was a year of milestones for us at the Port of Los Angeles in the three main areas that we focus: business, community and environment,” Seroka said. “And on the business front – which encompasses our cargo and commercial side of the Los Angeles waterfront – we have another record-setting year, with container volumes.
   “In 2017, the Port of Los Angeles moved more than 9.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units, which broke our own record, set just last year, for the largest amount of cargo moved in the history of the Western Hemisphere,” Seroka revealed, to a vigorous round of applause.
   In calendar year 2016, the port moved 8.8 million TEUs, according to its data. Before that, the previous record was set in 2006, when the port handled 8.46 million units.
   “The (2017) number is especially impressive when we take into consideration that our ships coming into Los Angeles handle more containers per ship call than any other port in the world,” Seroka said. “And these ships keep getting larger. Our customers continue to push the envelope in terms of testing methods with us in how better we can handle business and how much we can move forward with our participation in the overall flow of cargo.
   “In fact, between Oct. 17 and 22 of last year, our ILWU longshore workforce and our flagship terminal, APMT, discharged and loaded more than 24,800 TEUs on the Maersk Evora, setting an all-time record for container moves on one ship call,” he said. “Then, in November, we moved 924,000 TEUs as a port, which also was the single largest movement of cargo for one month of a Western Hemisphere port.”
   The Maersk Evora, which arrived at the port fully loaded with nine containers above deck, a first for any U.S. port, has a capacity of 13,492 TEUs, according to Maersk.
   “Our customers, laborers and supply chain partners have been able to handle extraordinary surges, not only in cargo volume, but changes in our industry,” Seroka remarked during his speech. “And we have spent collectively, the last 36 months collaborating in unprecedented ways to find different ideas in how to fashion the product that we put out there for our customers and our supply chain stakeholders, making sure that we adapt to the ever-changing dynamics in our industry.
   “And they, our stakeholders, our customers have done an outstanding job coordinating among each other to keep our boxes moving,” he said. “And I think, on a personal note that when it comes to these numbers and record-setting volume, is that we did it without one major service failure.
   “We attack the issues every day, we make sure that we’re doing our best for our customers, and we do it as smoothly as we can,” Seroka said.
   The State of the Port event was held as a fundraiser for two maritime non-profits, including the International Trade Education Programs (ITEP), which educates local high school students about careers in international trade; and the International Seafarer’s Center of LA/LB, which provides facilities and services for the needs of merchant sailors from across the world.


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