First ship with Grand Alliance set to arrive at port Monday
The Port of Tacoma will begin reaping the benefits of its container shipping line recruitment efforts Monday when the first Grand Alliance ship calls on the port’s Washington United Terminal.
The Dusseldorf Express, a 66,000-ton containership operated by Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd Line, is tentatively scheduled to arrive in Commencement Bay on Monday afternoon. That schedule is subject to change.
Hapag-Lloyd is one of three containership lines that constitute the Grand Alliance. The others are Japan’s NYK Line and Orient Overseas Container Line based in Hong Kong. The three lines, which share trans-Pacific capacity, are moving from Seattle’s Terminal 18 to Tacoma’s Washington United Terminal. The Grand Alliance was the subject of an informal contest between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma and the terminal operators, SSA Marine in Seattle and Hyundai Merchant Marine in Tacoma, that operate the two terminals. The Grand Alliance’s move to Tacoma could increase container traffic over the port’s docks by as much as 25 percent.
The Grand Alliance’s switch has also attracted two other container services here. Those services are jointly operated by Hapag-Lloyd and Hamburg Sud. Those services will connect Tacoma with the Mediterranean and with Australia.
The port and the terminal operator have been scrambling since the announcement of the new service early this spring to equip the terminal for the increased volume.
The port has converted a former import auto storage lot across Port of Tacoma Road from the WUT Terminal on the Blair Waterway to a truck waiting area. The new service is expected to bring hundreds more new trucks to the port during loading and unloading.
Hyundai recently imported eight rubber-tired gantry cranes to the terminal. Those cranes will allow the terminal operator to increase the terminal’s storage capacity by stacking containers atop one another.
Hyundai also is diverting its own ships, which have been calling at WUT, to the port’s APM Terminal on the Sitcum Waterway for several months while the terminal operator works the glitches out of the new WUT operation.
That move of the Hyundai ships to APM near the port’s headquarters building will create lines of dozens of trucks on busy days approaching the terminal. As many as 500 trucks a day will travel on Sitcum Way, said the port.
The port has eliminated parking on Sitcum Way to allow space for those trucks to wait and has begun a shuttle service for port workers from the Fabulich Center parking lot nearer Pacific Highway to the port headquarters.
Port spokeswoman Tara Mattina said the Hyundai ship diversion may last as long as six months.
John Gillie: 253-597-8663