Seattle, Tacoma Ports Launch Third Largest Cargo Gateway in North America

Commissioners from the U.S. ports of Tacoma and Seattle formally launched The Northwest Seaport Alliance on August 4, unifying the two ports’ marine cargo terminal investments, operations, planning and marketing to strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and attract more marine cargo to the region.

The launch of The Northwest Seaport Alliance comes after the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission, the federal agency that oversees the shipping industry, voted unanimously July 23 to approve the agreement.

”Creating the Northwest Seaport Alliance, the third largest cargo gateway in North America, is truly historic and signals a new era of cooperation between our ports,” said Port of Seattle Commission co-President Courtney Gregoire. ”Combining our strong cargo terminal operations will make our region more competitive in the global economy and create new jobs in Washington.”

While the ports remain separate organizations that retain ownership of their respective assets, they formed a port development authority (PDA) to manage the container, breakbulk, auto and some bulk terminals in Seattle and Tacoma.

The airport; cruise business; marinas, such as Fisherman’s Terminal; grain terminals and industrial real estate, such as the Northwest Innovation Works and Puget Sound Energy facilities and Terminal 91 uplands, will remain outside the alliance. The PDA will be governed jointly by the two ports through their elected commissions.

”I would like to express my support for The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which brings together neighboring ports to coordinate their import and export functions that provide a foundation for our nation’s foreign ocean-borne trade,” FMC Chairman Mario Cordero said.

”This alliance would become the third-largest trade gateway in North America, behind the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Port of New York/New Jersey. The Pacific Northwest is a key region for inbound and outbound United States cargo, moving cargo not only for the regional trade, but also cargo headed to destinations throughout the entire U.S. Midwest, and this Alliance will help the region remain competitive into the future.”

Among the votes they took Tuesday, the commissioners hired John Wolfe, current Port of Tacoma chief executive officer, as the CEO of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. Wolfe will lead both organizations through a transition period of up to five years.