Port of Oakland wants to make room for bigger ships: Here's a look at expansion plan

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Saturday, March 30, 2024
Port of Oakland wants to make room for bigger ships: Here's how
The Port of Oakland is planning to make room for even bigger ships. A new project would widen two areas where ships turn around.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Port of Oakland wants to make room for even bigger ships.

They're proposing a project that would widen two of their turning basins, as turning around a massive cargo ship filled with goods is no easy feat.

"You need to have an adequate number of tugs to assist you turning in a basin, you need to have the right type of weather," Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association said.

And you need to have enough space.

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That's why the Port of Oakland is proposing a project that would widen two turning basins where boats can turn around to "berth" or park the ship and also head back to sea.

One is on the inner harbor closer to Alameda and a second is on the outer harbor on the Oakland side.

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If approved, both turning basins would be widened by a little more than 300 feet each to make room for ships up to 1,310 feet long.

"What expansion of the turning basins means, is that we really hit kind of a trifecta of win, win, win of improvements," Jacob said. "We have better safety margins, which is our number one consideration. With larger ships, comes lower cost per unit."

Jacob says they expect it would bring more money into the Bay Area's local economy.

"Then also, the largest and newest ships that are coming out, are the cleanest ships, both in terms of real amounts of fuel that are used but also on a per unit basis, the more containers you can move on a ship, the less greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

The Port of Oakland says this project would make port operations safer and more efficient.

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But if these improvements aren't made, Jacob believes the Port of Oakland could risk losing business to other ports.

"Part of what we're trying to do is make sure that Oakland stays relevant in the basic service strains that already exist on the west coast, and as ships get bigger, if these physical constraints still exist, then the biggest ships are going to skip Oakland," he said.

The process is still in its early stages but he's hopeful the Port of Oakland's Board of Directors will vote on this by the end of the year.

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