Wednesday, February 22, 2006


People keep asking me about this story and I have to admit my ignorance of how this stuff works. This story answers some of my questions:

At least 90 terminals at major U.S. ports are operated by foreign governments and businesses, which also have participated in efforts to establish new cargo security standards, according to a shipping-industry source.

The governments of China and Singapore own companies that hold terminal leases along the West Coast. Japanese businesses control dozens of terminals nationwide, and a Danish company runs nearly a dozen major ports on the East Coast.

Homeland Security officials yesterday scurried to compile a list of all terminal operators in 361 U.S. ports, which was not available by press time. The Washington Times has determined that at least 90 terminals are operated by seven foreign companies.

'Every shipping company wants to operate their own terminals; it's a sweet deal to give their shippers the best deal possible,' the source said.

'I don't think anyone wants to get rid of foreign businesses, but giving terminals to foreign governments is different.'

U.S. companies continue to operate the majority of terminals, but no U.S. company made a bid on the purchase of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co.

Britain's Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., also known as P&O, provides stevedoring, freight-loading and -unloading, and terminal-operating services at ports in 18 countries where it operates. The company also operates some ferry services.

In addition to the U.S. contracts, the P&O ports acquisition would cover ports in Vancouver, British Columbia; Buenos Aires; and locations in Britain, France and several Asian countries.

P&O hires the terminal work force and ensures that cargo is delivered or shipped at ports.

Port operators 'just make sure every ship and every truck is unloaded,' said Mike Bowden, president of International Longshoremen's Association Local 1459 in Mobile, Ala.

Some of the work involves scheduling trains or trucks to pick up and deliver shipments. The operator also allocates storage space for cargo at the ports.

Operators typically tell shippers, ''This is your warehouse; you put your cargo here,'' Mr. Bowden said.

Work at the ports would continue to be done by unionized longshoremen, and the U.S. Coast Guard, and Customs and Border Protection still would provide security at ports.

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