The largest ports in North America

Maritime transport plays an important role all over the world, including in North America. Here we present the largest ports in North America with their brief descriptions. Even though the United States economy is considered one of the most powerful in the world, the largest American port is only in the second ten on the list of the largest seaports in the world in terms of TEU.

The largest ports in North America

1. Port of Los Angeles

Los Angeles Port

For years, the Port of Los Angeles has been the largest port in North America and the United States in terms of container traffic volume. It was founded in 1907.

There are 270 berths, as well as 25 cargo terminals and 7 container terminals.

The Port of Los Angeles handles 20% of cargo imports to the US, most of them from Asia. The main goods that arrive at the port are furniture, toys, footwear, clothes, as well as electronic equipment. Yop export products are fabrics, feed, paper products, scrap, and soy. This port handles most of the trade across the Pacific.

Annual throughput in the Port of Los Angeles (2022): 10.6 million TEUs

2. New York & New Jersey Port

The Port of New York & New Jersey is the largest port on the East Coast and the second-largest port in North America.

The port complex is the most important in the USA when it comes to handling vehicles and the transshipment of goods such as bananas and cocoa. Beverages, vehicles, and plastics are typically imported from the Port of New York & New Jersey. The main export products are goods such as wood pulp, plastic, and machinery.

Annual throughput in the New York & New Jersey Port (2022): 9.4 million TEUs

3. Long Beach Port

The Port of Long Beach, the third largest port in North America, is located approximately 30 km south of the Port of Los Angeles. It was opened in 1911. The port is largely known for its environmental policy.

There are 80 berths and 6 container terminals in the port area. The port’s main partners are primarily East Asian countries.

Annual throughput in Long Beach Port (2022): 9.1 million TEUs

4. Port of Savannah

Port of Savannah

The Port of Savannah is one of the Georgia Ports Authority ports. The Port of Savannah is home to the largest single-terminal container facility of its kind in North America. It consists of two modern, deep-water terminals: Garden City Terminal and Ocean Terminal.

Annual throughput in Port of Savannah (2022): 5.8 million TEUs

5. Port of Houston

The Port of Houston was established in 1909 on Galveston Bay. It consists of over 200 public and private terminals.

The port mainly exports crude oil and related products, as well as organic chemicals. The largest partners are countries such as Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Belgium, South Korea and the Netherlands. Crude oil, derivatives, iron, and steel are also imported. Imported goods mostly come from Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Algeria.

Annual throughput in Port of Houston (2022): 3.9 million TEUs

6. Port of Norfolk

The Port of Norfolk is located in Virginia and the port is managed by the Virginia Port Authority. It was established in 1965.

There are four terminals in the port: Norfolk International Terminal (NIT), Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT), Newport News Marine Terminal (NNMT), and Virginia International Gateway (VIG) in Portsmouth.

Annual throughput in Port of Norfolk (2022): 3.7 million TEUs

7. Port of Vancouver

Port of Vancouver

The Port of Vancouver is the largest seaport in Canada. Its largest partners are China, Japan and South Korea. It is equipped with:

  • 2 car terminals
  • 22 bulk cargo terminals
  • 4 container terminals
  • 1 ferry terminal

Annual throughput in Port of Vancouver (2022): 3.6 million TEU

8. Port of Seattle & Tacoma

Port of Seattle

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma, located on the Pacific Ocean, are operated by the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) and are among the leading container ports in the US.

Annual throughput in Port of Seattle & Tacoma (2022): 3.3 million TEU

9. South Carolina (Port Charleston)

South Carolina ports consist of Georgetown and Charleston. The Port of Charleston is one of the busiest in the region. 

The top import and export products are automobiles as well as bulk commodities like coal and forest products. It is a major gateway for trade with European countries. Moreover, it has a free-trade zone, so all cargo can be imported and exported without tariffs. 

Annual throughput in Port Charleston (2022): 2.8 million TEUs

10. Oakland Port 

Port Oakland

Oakland Port is located on San Francisco Bay. It was the first important port on the Pacific Coast. Today it handles 99% of all containerized goods that move through Northern California, mainly coming from Asia – China, Japan, and South Korea. Thanks to its proximity to Silicon Valley, it handles state-of-the-art technology products. Moreover, it handles lots of agricultural products. 

Annual throughput in Port of Oakland (2022): 2.3 million TEUs 

Graphics sources: cruisemapper.com/ports/los-angeles-port-86; safety4sea.com/port-of-long-beach-to-lead-energy-resiliency-project
ttnews.com/articles/new-york-port-authority-adopts-ghg-plan-support-paris-climate-agreement; gcaptain.com
freightwaves.com/news/maritime/port-report-houston-ship-size-limits; reuters.com/sustainability/us-west-coast-port-workers-shut-down-port-seattle-2023-06-10; portofoakland.com/press-releases/port-of-oakland-volume-declines-as-shanghai-struggles

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