Port of Long Beach

Port of Long Beach

Part of the Port of Long Beach
Country United States
Location Long Beach, California
Coordinates 33°45′15″N 118°12′59″W / 33.754185°N 118.216458°W / 33.754185; -118.216458
Opened June 24, 1911
Land area 3,200 acres (13 km2)
Available berths 80
Piers 10
Annual cargo tonnage 78.2 million metric revenue tons (CY 2010)
Annual container volume 6.73 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) (CY 2013)[1]
Value of cargo $56.7 billion USD (CY 2010)[2]
Draft depth >50 feet
Air draft unrestricted

The Port of Long Beach, also known as the Harbor Department of the City of Long Beach, is the second-busiest container port in the United States, after the Port of Los Angeles, which it adjoins.[3] Acting as a major gateway for US–Asian trade, the port occupies 3,200 acres (13 km2) of land with 25 miles (40 km) of waterfront in the city of Long Beach, California. The Port of Long Beach is located less than two miles (3 km) southwest of downtown Long Beach and approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of downtown Los Angeles. The seaport generates approximately US$100 billion in trade and employs more than 316,000 people in Southern California.[4]

Early history (1911–1960s)

San Pedro Bay in a 1900 plan for the Los Angeles Harbor, present cities and districts are named
Aerial view of the Port of Long Beach.
The Hanjin terminal at The Port of Long Beach.

San Pedro Breakwater was started in 1899 and over time was expanded to protect Port of Long Beach. The Port of Long Beach was founded on 800 acres (3.2 km2) of mudflats on June 24, 1911, at the mouth of the Los Angeles River. In 1917, the first Board of Harbor Commissioners was formed to supervise harbor operations. Due to the booming economy, Long Beach voters approved a $5 million bond to improve the inner and outer harbor in 1924.[5] By 1926 more than one million tons of cargo were handled, and additional piers were constructed to accommodate the growing business.[6]

The old Municipal Pier was rebuilt into the Municipal Wharf in 1925. In 1925 construction started on Pier A and Pier B, with opening of Pier A in 1930.[7]

In 1921, oil was discovered at the Long Beach Oil Field on and around Signal Hill. In 1932, the fourth-largest oil field in the United States, Wilmington Oil Field, was discovered; much of this field was underneath Long Beach and the harbor area itself.[8] The hundreds of oil wells from Wilmington Oil Field provided oil revenues to the City and Port of Long Beach. The first offshore oil well in the harbor was brought online in 1937, shortly after the discovery that the oil field far extended into the harbor. In the mid-1930s, the port was expanded, largely due to the need to transport oil to foreign markets, as the immense output of oil from the Los Angeles Basin caused a glut in US markets.[9]

The extraction of hundreds of millions of barrels of oil caused concern for subsidence, as the overlying land collapsed into the empty space over time.[10] Engineers and geologists were promptly assigned to the problem, building dikes for flood control at high tide.

On July 3, 1930 the Federal River and Harbor Act authorizes expanding the San Pedro Bay breakwater by 3.5-mile completed in 1949.

Long Beach became a home port for the The United States Navy's Pacific Fleet in 1932. In 1940 the navy purchased 105 acres on Terminal Island built the Long Beach Naval Shipyard there.

In 1946, after World War II, the Port of Long Beach was established as "America’s most modern port" with the completion of the first of nine clear-span transit sheds.[11] Pier E was completed and Pier B was expanded to two times its size in 1949. Pierpoint Landing completed on Pier F in 1948, becoming a large sport fishing spot.

Concerns regarding subsidence increased until Operation "Big Squirt," a water injection program, halted any progression of sinking land in 1960.[12]

Recent history (1970s–present)

Port of Long Beach, Container terminal, with the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the back bround

In 1971 Pier J expansion is complete with a 55-acre container and car import terminal, becoming Toyota's Western distribution center. In 1972 International Transportation Service completes a 52-acre container terminal on Pier J with a 1,200-foot wharf and two gantry cranes. Maersk Line Pacific completes on Pier G a 29-acre container terminal. Port of Long Beach is the largest container terminal in America.[13]

With the rapid expansion of the port pollution also increased. The Port of Long Beach instituted programs to prevent and control oil spills, contain debris, and manage vessel traffic. Due to its efforts, the port was awarded the American Association of Port Authorities Environmental "E" Award. Long Beach is the first harbor in the Western Hemisphere to receive such an award.[14]

In 1980, with improved relations between the United States and China, the port sent officials to the People’s Republic of China for the first time. Less than a year later, the China Ocean Shipping Co. inaugurated international shipping and designated Long Beach as its first US port of call. Relationships were forged with other international powers, and South Korea's Hanjin Shipping opened a 57-acre (230,000 m2) container terminal on Pier C of the port in 1991.[15] Following this, COSCO, a Chinese international shipping carrier, secured business with the Port of Long Beach in 1997.

Intermodal freight transport ship-to-rail transfer of containerized cargos at the Port of Long Beach

From the late 1990s through 2011, the Port of Long Beach saw increased traffic and growth with the leasing of terminals. In 1997, approximately one million containers were inbound to the port. By 2005, this number had tripled to nearly 3.3 million containers. If outbound containers are included, then the number increased from 3 million containers in 1997 to nearly 6.7 million containers in 2005.[16]

In 2001 U.S. Navy closed its footprint at Port of Long Beach, the Navy transfers it last lot of land on Terminal Island to the Port of Long Beach. The shipyard was closed in 1997.[17]

The surge in vessel traffic and cargo prompted increased environmental efforts by the port. In 2004, the Port of Long Beach reached compliance with an air pollution mandate by handling petroleum coke, one of the port's largest exports, in improved ways. By using enclosed conveyors and covered storage areas, the port reduced the amount of dust emitted by the petroleum coke by 5%, down 21% in 1997.[18]

In 2007, the seaport launched the first stage of its by approving a that banned older diesel trucks from serving the port.[19][20] On October 1, 2011, the Clean Trucks Program was launched by the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The program set a goal to reduce air pollution from its truck fleet by 80% by 2012. Trucks built prior to 1987 that fail to meet the 2007 clean truck standards set forth by the United States Environmental Protection Agency are denied access to port terminals. In compliance with the clean truck initiative on October 1, all trucking companies conducting business with the port must have a port-approved concession outlining the regulations they must abide by. By September 23, 2011, nearly 500 trucking companies had applied for concessions, amounting to more than 6,000 trucks.[21]

A south looking view of the Port of Long Beach with Catalina Island in the background.

In 2012 International Longshore and Warehouse Union went on strike, that closed down the ports of and Long Beach and Los Angeles. The eight-day strike cost California about $8 billion. Ships were backed up into the pacific ocean. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service helped end the strike. The strike hurt retailers getting ready for the holiday sales.[22][23]


The port's combined import and export value is nearly $100 billion per year.[24] The seaport provides jobs, generates tax revenue, and supports retail and manufacturing businesses. More than $800 million a year is spent on wholesale distribution services in the city. In the City of Los Angeles, port operations generate more than 230,000 jobs, with more than $10 billion a year going to distribution services in the city. On the state level, the Port of Long Beach provides about 370,000 jobs and generates close to $5.6 billion a year in state and local tax revenues[25]


The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are, together, the single largest source of air pollution in the metropolitan Los Angeles area. Both ports have implemented a number of environmental programs to reduce pollution levels while continuing port growth.[26]

Green Port Policy

The Green Port Policy was adopted by the Port of Long Beach in 2005.

The internationally recognized Green Port Policy was adopted by the Port of Long Beach in 2005 in an effort to reduce pollution in the growing region of Los Angeles/Long Beach. The policy sets a framework for enhancing wildlife habitat, improving air and water quality, cleaning soil and undersea sediments, and creating a sustainable port culture. The guiding principles of the Green Port Policy are to protect the community from the harmful environmental impacts of port operations, distinguish the port as a leader in environmental stewardship and compliance, promote sustainability, employ the best available technology to avoid or reduce environmental impacts, and engage and educate the community. Long Beach Harbor is recognized for protection by the California Bays and Estuaries Policy.[27]

Clean Air Action Plan

In 2007, the Port of Long Beach continued its environmental efforts by implementing the Clean Air Action Plan, an air quality program adopted by the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. In recognition, the Clean Air Action Plan was given the most prestigious award from the American Association of Port Authorities, the Environmental Management Award, in 2007.

The Clean Air Action Plan also included the use of trucks that were deemed excessively pollutant. The port's Harbor Commission approved a Clean Trucks Program that banned old diesel trucks by October 2008. The program, outlined in the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan, was expected to modernize the port trucking industry and slash truck-related air pollution by 80% by 2012. Diesel-powered harbor short-haul (drayage) trucks are a major source of air pollution.

Green Flag incentive program

While clean trucks were a focus, the Port of Long Beach also turned its attention to ships. The Green Flag incentive program was set up to encourage ships to slow down in order to improve air quality. The Green Flag program provides approximately $2 million a year in discounts for vessel operators who slow their ships to 12 knots (22 km/h) or less within 20 miles (32 km) of the harbor. According to the port, the Green Flag program reduced air pollution by 600 tons in 2007 and was expected to do better in 2008.

The port has donated millions of dollars to select Southern California wetlands projects, including a $50 million donation to the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach.[28] Port of Long Beach officials looking in to helping restore and revitalize the Los Cerritos Wetlands.[29]


Harbor Commission

The Port of Long Beach is governed by the City of Long Beach. The City Charter created the Long Beach Harbor Department to promote and develop the port. Under the charter, the five-member Board of Harbor Commissioners is responsible for setting policy for the port and managing the Harbor Department.

The Harbor Commissioners set policies for the Port of Long Beach. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor of Long Beach and are confirmed by the City Council. They may serve no more than two six-year terms. In July, the commissioners rotate the offices of president and vice president. These offices are held for one year.

Community relations

To help improve relations with the Long Beach and surrounding towns, Port of Long Beach started a number of outreach events.

Green Port Fest attracts thousands of residents from Southern California every year


Command and Control Center

A new "green" Command and Control Center is being built.

In February 2009, the Port opened a $21 million command center. The Command and Control Center conforms to the port's Green Port Policy of being energy efficient.[35]

Security officer watches the port, detecting all ships within 11 miles of the facility.

Harbor Patrol

The Long Beach Harbor Patrol is a group of trained and armed public officers dedicated to security and public safety at the Port of Long Beach. Harbor Patrol officers monitor port facilities and public roads, respond to dispatches, and have authority to access all marine terminals and cargo at the port.

In addition, Harbor Patrol operates round-the-clock camera surveillance, mobile underwater sonar, dive team, explosive detectors, and other technology to protect port facilities and operations.

See also


  1. "The Journal of Commerce World Top 50 Container Ports". joc.com.
  2. "U.S. Import Export Data - Zepol Corporation". zepol.com.
  3. White, Ronald D. (August 7, 2011). "Long Beach port chief's long voyage nears an end". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
  4. presstelegram.com, A wealth of jobs at the Port of Long Beach, By Karen Robes Meeks, Long Beach Press Telegram, 02/02/14
  5. presstelegram.com, The Press & The Port, By Rich Archbold, 02/25/11
  6. metrans.org, METRANS Transportation Center, U.S. West Coast Ports Timeline
  7. gazettes.com, Port History: From Swamp To International Trade Hub, By Jonathan Van Dyke, June 22, 2011
  8. "Oil and Gas Statistics: 2007 Annual Report" (PDF). California Department of Conservation. December 31, 2007. Retrieved August 25, 2009.
  9. LSA Associates, Inc. Sports Park Draft Environmental Impact Report — DEIR. Submitted to the City of Long Beach, California, USA, 2004. p. 4.6–6.
  10. NASA.gov page discussing subsidence at Long Beach, California, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, USA.
  11. The Port of Long Beach, By Michael D. White, page 47
  12. The Port of Long Beach, By Michael D. White, page 89
  13. carrtracks.com, International Container Traffic and Port Statistics
  14. The Port of Long Beach, By Michael D. White, page 105
  15. Port of Long Beach - TTI / Hanjin Shipping Co. - Pier T
  16. Port of Long Beach - Yearly container trade in TEUs
  17. polb.com, U.S. Navy
  18. latimes.com, Port of L.A. Covers Its Petroleum Coke, The facility is storing the potentially carcinogenic material in a $7.5-million barn. May 17, 2002, by SANDRA MURILLO, TIMES STAFF WRITER
  19. polb.com, Clean Trucks Program
  20. polb.com, Clean Air Action Plan
  21. pierpass.org, All 13 Marine Container Terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Return to Five OffPeak Shifts
  22. usnews.nbcnews.com NBC News, Deal ends $8 billion port strike, LA mayor says, Tuesday Dec 4, 2012
  23. usatoday.com, L.A. ports reopen after crippling 8-day strike ends, John Rogers, Associated Press, December 5, 2012
  24. "U.S. Census Bureau: Foreign Trade Division". USA Trade Online. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  25. villageprofile.com, Port of Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, Port of Long Beach International Trade
  26. Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer (December 25, 2007). "Rival ports join forces on green growth". Los Angeles Times newspaper. Tribune Company. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  27. State Water Resources Control Board Water Quality Control Policy for the Enclosed Bays and Estuaries of California (1974) State of California
  28. "Revitalizing Wetlands". Port of Long Beach. July 31, 2007. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  29. polb.com, Los Cerritos Wetlands
  30. Puente, Kelly (October 4, 2008). "Port fest draws thousands". Long Beach Press-Telegram.
  31. [ polb.com, Green Port Fest
  32. Boat tours, Port of Long Beach.
  33. porttown.polb.com, ow the People of Long Beach Built, Defended and Profited From Their Harbor
  34. polb.com, Port of Long Beach Scholarships
  35. polb.com, Command center]

Further reading

Media related to Port of Long Beach at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 33°45′15″N 118°12′59″W / 33.754185°N 118.216458°W / 33.754185; -118.216458

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