Top 10 Busiest and Largest Container Ports in the US in 2023

Container ports are a critical component of the United States economy, as they serve as gateways for imports and exports to and from the country. In 2022, the total container traffic handled by the US was around 60 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), a significant increase compared to previous years.

The US has a competitive container port industry, with many ports ranked among the busiest in the world. The top 10 container ports in the US account for approximately 80% of the country’s total container traffic.

Here’s a table of the top 10 busiest and largest container ports in the United States with their latest reported container volumes:

Port NameContainer Volume in 2022 (TEUs)
Port of Los Angeles9,911,158
Port of New York and New Jersey9,493,664
Port of Long Beach9,133,657
Port of Savannah5,892,131
Port of Houston3,974,901
Port of Virginia3,695,156
Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma3,384,019
Port of Charleston2,792,313
Port of Oakland2,337,125
Port of Miami1,197,664
Top 10 Busiest and Largest Container Ports in the US

1. The Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles is located in San Pedro Bay, 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. It is the busiest container port in the US and the 17th busiest in the world. The port covers 43 miles of waterfront and has 27 terminals, making it the largest container port in the country. It is also a major center for automobile imports.

The port is a significant economic driver for Southern California, supporting over 1.6 million jobs and generating around $400 billion in annual trade value. The port has a close relationship with the entertainment industry, as it is a gateway for the import and export of film and television equipment. The port also has a robust environmental program and is committed to reducing its environmental impact.

The Port of Los Angeles serves as a gateway to Asia and handles a diverse range of cargoes, including electronics, apparel, and furniture. The port is known for its state-of-the-art infrastructure, including advanced cargo-handling equipment, highly automated container terminals, and advanced security systems.

One of the major terminals at the Port of Los Angeles is the APM Terminals Pier 400, which is one of the largest container terminals in North America. It features 10 ship-to-shore cranes and 72 rubber-tire gantry cranes and has a capacity of 2.4 million TEUs annually. The terminal is a major hub for trade between Asia and the US.

The port has also set several records in recent years. In 2022, the port set a new record by handling over 9.9 million TEUs, making it the busiest year in its history.

Container ship in Port of New York and New Jersey

2. Port of New York and New Jersey

The Port of New York and New Jersey is located on the east coast of the United States, stretching along 650 miles of waterfront in the states of New York and New Jersey. It became the second busiest container port in the US, handling over 9.4 million TEUs in 2022.

The port is a major economic driver for the region, supporting over 500,000 jobs and generating over $50 billion in annual economic activity. It is a major gateway to the Northeast region of the US and handles a variety of cargoes, including consumer goods, automobiles, and petroleum products.

The port consists of several terminals, including the Port Newark Container Terminal, the Maher Terminals, and the Red Hook Container Terminal. These terminals are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment, including advanced cranes and cargo-handling systems.

One of the unique features of the Port of New York and New Jersey is its location, which provides easy access to major population centers in the Northeast region of the US. The port is connected to a vast network of highways, railroads, and waterways, allowing for the efficient distribution of cargo throughout the region.

The port has also made significant investments in environmental sustainability, including implementing a Clean Air Strategy to reduce emissions from port operations and promoting the use of alternative fuels and energy-efficient technologies.

Container terminal in Port of New York and New Jersey

3. Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach is located in Long Beach, California, adjacent to the Port of Los Angeles. It is the now busiest container port in the US. The port covers 3,200 acres and has 11 container terminals, making it the second-largest container port in the country.

The port is a major economic engine for the Southern California region, supporting over 575,000 jobs and generating over $200 billion in annual trade value. The port is a hub for international trade, serving as a gateway to Asia and handling a variety of cargoes, including electronics, clothing, and household goods.

One of the major terminals at the Port of Long Beach is the Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT), which is one of the most technologically advanced container terminals in the world. The terminal features 10 ship-to-shore cranes and 50 rubber-tire gantry cranes and has a capacity of 3.3 million TEUs annually. The terminal is a major hub for trade between Asia and the US.

The port has made significant investments in environmental sustainability, including implementing a Clean Air Action Plan to reduce air pollution and a Green Port Policy to promote environmental stewardship. The port has also set ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of zero-emission technologies.

The Port of Long Beach has experienced strong growth in recent years, with over 8.1 million TEUs handled in 2021 which was improved during 2022 with over 9,1 million TEUs handled in 2022. The port has also set several records, including handling over 700,000 TEUs in a single month in August 2021.

4. Port of Savannah

The Port of Savannah is located in Georgia, on the southeast coast of the United States. It is the fourth busiest container port in the US, with a total volume of cole to 5.9 million TEUs in 2022 showing strong growth from 5,3 million TEUs in 2021.

The port plays a crucial role in the economic development of the region, supporting over 440,000 jobs and generating more than $25 billion in annual income. It is also an important gateway for agricultural and industrial goods, handling a significant amount of containerized cargo such as automobiles, chemicals, and forest products.

The port has several terminals, including the Garden City Terminal, which is one of the largest single-terminal container facilities in North America. The terminal is equipped with advanced technology and equipment, including state-of-the-art cranes, straddle carriers, and container-handling systems. It also has an on-dock rail facility, allowing for efficient transportation of cargo to and from the terminal.

The Port of Savannah has received several accolades for its efficiency and operational excellence. In 2020, it was named “Best Seaport in North America” by Asia Cargo News, recognizing its commitment to innovation, customer service, and sustainability.

The port has also made significant investments in environmental sustainability, implementing a Green Port Initiative to reduce emissions and promote the use of alternative fuels and technologies. It has also partnered with the Georgia Ports Authority and local communities to develop programs for sustainable growth and development.

Overall, the Port of Savannah is a critical component of the US transportation infrastructure, connecting businesses and consumers to global markets and supporting economic growth and development in the region.

5. Port of Houston

The Port of Houston is located in Texas and is the fifth busiest container port in the US, handling over 3.9 million TEUs in 2022. It is also the largest port in the Gulf of Mexico.

The port is a significant economic driver for the region, supporting over 1.35 million jobs and generating more than $265 billion in economic activity annually. It is also a major gateway for international trade, handling a diverse range of containerized goods such as chemicals, petroleum, and machinery.

The Port of Houston has several terminals, including the Bayport Container Terminal, which is one of the most technologically advanced container terminals in the US. The terminal features automated gate systems, advanced container-handling equipment, and an on-dock rail facility, which allows for efficient transportation of cargo to and from the terminal.

The port has received numerous awards for its operational efficiency and commitment to sustainability, including the Green Port Award from the International Association of Ports and Harbors. It has also invested in environmental initiatives such as the Houston Clean Air Strategy, which aims to reduce emissions and improve air quality in the region.

Overall, the Port of Houston is an essential component of the US transportation infrastructure, connecting businesses and consumers to global markets and supporting economic growth and development in the region.

6. The Port of Virginia

The Port of Virginia, located in the southeastern region of the United States, is the sixth-largest container port in the country as of 2022, with a total container traffic of 3,695,156 TEUs. This port serves as a gateway to global commerce and is a vital economic driver for the region and the nation.

The Port of Virginia is strategically located along the East Coast and offers direct access to the Atlantic Ocean without any obstructions, making it an ideal port for container ships of all sizes. It boasts deep water channels, modern infrastructure, and state-of-the-art equipment that enable efficient cargo handling and quick turnaround times.

The port’s primary terminals include Norfolk International Terminals (NIT), Virginia International Gateway (VIG), and Newport News Marine Terminal (NNMT). These terminals offer a wide range of container services, including loading, unloading, storage, and distribution.

The Port of Virginia is well-known for its strong partnerships with ocean carriers, shippers, and logistics providers. It has developed comprehensive supply chain solutions to optimize cargo flow and increase productivity, which has made it an attractive destination for global trade. The port handles a diverse range of cargo, including automotive parts, chemicals, agricultural products, and consumer goods.

7. Port of Seattle-Tacoma

The Port of Seattle-Tacoma, also known as the Northwest Seaport Alliance, is the seventh busiest container port in the US, handling almost 3,4 million TEUs in 2022. The port is located in the Pacific Northwest and serves as a gateway for trade with Asia.

The port is a critical economic engine for the region, supporting over 58,000 jobs and generating more than $4.3 billion in economic activity annually. It has four major container terminals, with 13 post-Panamax cranes, which can handle some of the largest container ships in the world.

The Port of Seattle-Tacoma has invested heavily in infrastructure improvements in recent years, including the Terminal 5 modernization project, which includes upgrading infrastructure to handle larger vessels, and the Terminal 18 redevelopment project, which aims to increase cargo capacity and improve operational efficiency.

The port has also taken significant steps to reduce its environmental impact, including investing in shore power to reduce emissions from ships, promoting the use of cleaner-burning fuels, and implementing energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Port of Seattle-Tacoma has remained resilient, with cargo volumes rebounding in the latter half of 2021 and significant growth in 2022. The port’s strategic location, combined with its investments in infrastructure and sustainability, makes it a vital link in the global supply chain.

8. Port of Charleston

The Port of Charleston is located in South Carolina and is the eighth busiest container port in the US, handling over 3 million TEUs in 2021. It is also a major port for automobile imports and exports.

The port is an economic engine for the region, supporting over 187,000 jobs and generating more than $17 billion in economic activity annually. It has several terminals, including the Wando Welch Terminal, which is the port’s largest and most technologically advanced terminal. The terminal features 13 ship-to-shore cranes, 52 rubber-tired gantry cranes, and an on-dock rail facility, which allows for efficient transportation of cargo to and from the terminal.

The Port of Charleston has received numerous awards for its operational efficiency and commitment to environmental stewardship. It is also expanding its infrastructure to accommodate larger vessels and increasing cargo volumes. In 2021, the port opened the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, which is the first new terminal in the US in more than a decade. The terminal features five ship-to-shore cranes and 25 hybrid rubber-tired gantry cranes, making it one of the most technologically advanced container terminals in the country.

Overall, the Port of Charleston is a vital link in the US transportation network, connecting businesses and consumers to global markets and supporting economic growth and development in the region.

9. Port of Oakland

The Port of Oakland is the ninth busiest container port in the US, handling 2,337,125 TEUs in 2022. Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the port is a key gateway for trade with Asia, as well as a major export hub for goods such as agricultural products, wine, and technology.

The port has two major container terminals, with 10 ship-to-shore cranes and a total of 27 cranes overall. It has invested in infrastructure improvements, including a recent project to heighten four cranes to accommodate larger vessels, as well as a new rail yard to improve intermodal connectivity.

The Port of Oakland has also taken steps to reduce its environmental impact, including electrifying its cargo handling equipment and implementing a truck management program to reduce emissions from vehicles in and around the port.

Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Port of Oakland has remained resilient, with cargo volumes increasing in the latter half of 2021. The port’s strategic location and investments in infrastructure and sustainability make it a critical link in the global supply chain.

10. Port of Miami

The Port of Miami is located in South Florida and is the tenth busiest container port in the US, handling 1,197,664 TEUs in 2022 after handling over 1 million TEUs in 2021. The port is a major gateway for trade with Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Port of Miami is an economic powerhouse for the region, supporting over 300,000 jobs and generating more than $41 billion in economic activity annually. It has several terminals, including the PortMiami Tunnel, which connects the port directly to downtown Miami and Interstate 95, reducing traffic congestion and improving cargo flow. The tunnel can accommodate trucks carrying oversized cargo and hazardous materials, making it a vital link in the region’s logistics network.

The port has also recently completed a major infrastructure project, the Deep Dredge Project, which deepened the port’s main channel to 50 feet, allowing it to accommodate larger vessels and increasing cargo volumes. The project was a collaboration between the US Army Corps of Engineers, the state of Florida, and Miami-Dade County.

The Port of Miami has received numerous awards for its operational efficiency and commitment to sustainability. It is also home to the Miami Free Zone, which is a hub for international trade and commerce, providing warehousing, distribution, and manufacturing services to businesses in the region.

Conclusion

Container ports are an essential part of the US economy, as they serve as gateways for the import and export of goods from all over the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for the industry, but the top 10 busiest container ports in the US have continued to thrive.

These ports are located in strategic locations and handle a significant share of the country’s container traffic. Each port has its unique characteristics and strengths, such as the Port of Los Angeles’ dominance in the trans-Pacific trade and the Port of New York and New Jersey’s access to the populous East Coast. As the global economy recovers and trade volumes increase, these ports will continue to play a critical role in facilitating commerce.

FAQ

What is a container port?

A container port is a facility that handles the loading and unloading of containerized cargo onto and off ships.

Why are container ports important to the US economy?

Container ports are important to the US economy because they facilitate international trade and support the movement of goods that are critical to many industries.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected container ports in the US?

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for the industry, such as supply chain disruptions and reduced demand for some goods. However, the top 10 busiest container ports in the US have continued to operate and thrive.

What factors contribute to a port’s ranking?

A port’s ranking is based on several factors, including the volume of container traffic it handles, its geographic location, and its access to major transportation networks.

Will container ports continue to be important in the future?

Yes, container ports are expected to continue to be essential to the US economy in the future as international trade and global supply chains expand.

Top 10 Container Ports in the United States for 2020 | What's Going on With Shipping?
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