NWSA Reports Record Breakbulk Cargo Volumes

Northwest Seaport Alliance
Northwest Seaport Alliance
Image via Northwest Seaport Alliance.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which is the maritime operating alliance between the Seattle and Tacoma ports, ended 2021 with record volumes for breakbulk cargo through its gateway, the alliance announced Jan. 31.

Roll-on, roll-off cargo with construction equipment made up about 67% of breakbulk cargo last year. About 15% consisted of agricultural equipment such as tractors and harvesters, while 12% was machinery such as aluminum casting and injection mold equipment, and 5% was mining, which included drill with equipment and mining trucks.

Also, about 5% consisted of miscellaneous cargo such as boats, helicopters and leisure equipment, according to the Seaport Alliance, whose facilities at East Blair 1 and Terminal 7 in Tacoma have been moving breakbulk cargo since 2015.

The alliance said new customers and carriers, as well as a rebound in cargo from operations that were affected by the pandemic in 2020 drove the record numbers. Also, costly rates for cargo containers have prompted shippers to find creative ways to move their cargo, such as shipping goods that traditionally went into boxes and put them on breakbulk ships.

NWSA said that it anticipates high breakbulk numbers to continue with future demand for building equipment for federal projects.

“We are proud of our port operated terminals, Port of Tacoma personnel, and the ILWU longshore workforce who have worked diligently to support our record-breaking breakbulk operations,” Port of Tacoma Commissioner President and NWSA Co-Chair Don Meyer said. “Breakbulk cargo such as construction and agriculture equipment supports our diversified economy and numerous jobs across Washington state and the Pacific Northwest.”

By Karen Robes Meeks