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The Largest Ports in the United States

The Port of Los Angeles

Welcome to The Largest Ports in the United States.

The stuff we use daily does not necessarily belong to our country. They are usually items manufactured by other states -oftentimes manufactured halfway across the world.

Before they arrive on the shelves at your local store, they pass through the world’s many ports. Here we’ve listed the largest ports in the United States. 

the largest ports in the united states

Likewise, the revenue generated in our country to stabilize the economy is greatly influenced by the number of products exported to others. 

The seaports hoist the whole cycle of importing and exporting goods. Ports act as economic boosters due to their role in cheap and efficient cargo transportation. 

Our gigantic oceans provided to us by nature have been used for trading purposes for centuries. 

Even though you may not notice it, the largest ports in the United States carry immense importance in our daily lives. They are the ones helping to import the items we use in our daily routines. Without these items, we may not be able to survive!

Besides being the world’s largest provider of goods, the United States depends entirely upon its water bodies containing the seaports. These pave the way for budget-friendly trading to generate huge profits. 

If you’re curious about the significance of the largest ports in the United States, keep reading with us! 

Why Are Seaports Important for the United States?

the largest ports in the united states

Ports carry numerous benefits for the economy, environment, and population of the United States. 

They can be actively termed ‘economic boosters’ since their contribution (of millions of dollars) to the growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dramatically benefits the country. 

Moreover, the large ports create millions of employment opportunities. They help people near the poverty line get jobs and improve their lifestyles. 

Besides, the seaports also serve as habitats for several wild species. Frequently they find their haven in the pilings or pontoons found on cargo terminals. 

On top of that, seaports add to the tourism industry. Several water sports and other developmental projects near the creeks attract people worldwide. In this way, they generate even more significant revenue to benefit the people and the economy.

All in all, the United States cannot function without its active ports!

How to Define a Large Port?

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When hearing the word ‘large,’ we jump to the conclusion that a thing is large in terms of its size. However, this may not be true in some cases. 

For instance, if we consider the example of an animal, it may be large in terms of weight, length, or height. 

Similarly, a port may be classified as large in various ways. For example: in terms of the area it covers, the number of products it can store, the total freight it can move, and the total revenue it generates annually. 

It is your call on which definition to use and how you would like to classify them when researching ports. 

However, the most accurate way of measuring the expanse of a port is by recording the number of TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) a port can handle domestically. 

The TEUs represent the shipping containers that contain the material for exporting and importing. The greater the number of TEUs at a port, the larger and busier it is. 

Thus, the best way of differentiating between the largest ports in the United States is by considering all the attributes mentioned above to ensure accurate results. 

So, buckle up to learn about the top 11 largest ports found in the US. Let’s discover what makes them all stand out from the rest of the world. 

Top 11 of the Largest Ports in the United States

The United States’ trading economy is ranked the 7th most successful globally. Such is the amount of trade happening in the US that seaports have become a crucial part of its economy. 

Therefore, the cargo-carrying capacity of US ports must be large enough to cater to the massive traffic of goods being sent and received overseas via oceanic trails. 

The United States is, thus, home to several huge ports that not only fulfill the exceeding demand for goods inside the state but also cater to the needs of other countries that are its trading partners. 

So, without further ado, let’s get down to knowing some exciting information about the most significant ports, in terms of the land size and TEUs they handle, in the United States.

#1 The Port of Los Angeles

The Port of Los Angeles

The port, sometimes known as the “America’s port”, is the most prized possession of the Los Angeles Harbor Development. It falls under the category of one of the busiest ports in the world.

The Los Angeles (LA) port is situated on San Pedro Bay. It constitutes approximately 3000 hectares (7500 acres) of land and water and the 45 miles (69 km) of waterfront close to the Port of Long Beach.

By handling a tremendous amount of cargo, equalling 9.3 million TEUs, makes it the largest seaport in the US. Moreover, the gigantic business hub has room to employ 529,000 people worldwide. 

The infrastructure of the port of LA includes 25 cargo terminals, 8 container terminals, 82 cranes, and 113 miles (182 km) of on-dock rail. 

Above all, the port can import and export almost all types of goods. Principal imports include electronics, furniture, car parts, and garments. This port’s most famous export items include recycled paper, metallic scrap waste, and pet food. 

The port’s capacity is further enhanced by future investment programs that will boost the revenue generation for the US even further. 

#2 The Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach

Coupled with its gigantic neighbor, the port of Los Angeles, the Long Beach seaport serves as the most incredible transporting hub of the US, paving the way for friendly trading ties between the US and Asian countries. 

The port of Long Beach, also named the Harbor Department of the City of Long Beach, currently occupies 3200 acres of land, coupled with the 25 miles (40 km) long waterfront across the city. 

The substantial size of the port makes it capable of handling approximately 8 million TEUs. Thereby creating job opportunities for 316,000 people in California. 

Moreover, a rough estimate of the trading returns generated through this port alone rounds off to 150 billion dollars, with 5.6 billion dollars generated in local and state tax revenues. 

To sum up, the port of Long Beach single-handedly supports thousands of businesses. It is responsible for the huge economic success of the state. 

Furthermore, the safety operations and environmentally-friendly mechanisms in the port attract large sums of foreign investments. Consequently, further development over the years is inevitable. 

#3 The Port of New Jersey and New York

The Port of New Jersey and New York

The port, sometimes known as the port of Newark, is the largest one to exist on the eastern coast. The area is well-supported with an air and railway network to enhance cargo movement throughout the country. 

Such is the network of this port that its terminals extend throughout the New York metropolitan area. This network is responsible for massive trading activities. All in all, it contributes to one-third of the state’s GDP. 

Besides, the port lies within a 25 miles radius of the Statue of Liberty, all the more reason for its increasing popularity. It covers approximately 770 miles (1240 km) of the area surrounding the New York shore.

Moreover, the massive cargo infrastructure at the port incorporates several busy airports, railway networks, and four container terminals. 

These infrastructural bodies can handle approximately 7.5 million TEUs containing petroleum, break bulk freight, and scrap metal.

In addition, the port serves as a great tourist point and generates lots of revenue for the state in this way too. Tourists from around the globe come here due to the fantastic cruise terminals, lighthouses, and ferries for sightseeing. 

#4 The Port of Savannah

The Port of Savannah

Being one of the most energetic ports in the US, the Port of Savannah in Georgia has contributed much to the amplification of the US economy. The port is administered by the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and is the fastest-evolving port in the US.

The port of Savannah has successfully surpassed the mark of handling approximately 5 million TEUs in 2021, making it one of the busiest freight transportation hubs. 

There are two major deepwater terminals, the Ocean City and Garden City Terminal. They promote trading opportunities with the fastest-growing Asian countries, mainly China and India. 

Besides, the management couldn’t cater to the infrastructural development at the port of Savannah further due to the limited land available. However, some of the major facilities at the port have made it the talk of the town up till now. 

Seapoint Industrial Terminal Complex, Target Corporation Facility, IKEA Facility, Heineken USA Facility, Savannah Port Terminal Railroad, Suez Express, and East Coast Savannah Express are some of the major developmental projects at the port.

These projects attract tons of foreign investment for further maintenance and expansion of the area. 

#5 The Port of Virginia

The Port of Virginia

Having close trading ties with the Commonwealth, the Virginia Port Authority operates the port of Virginia. It provides the leading gateway for international trade via the eastern coast of the US. 

The 1864 acres of land, 30 miles of on-dock rail, and 50 feet deep berths make it a good trading hub with over 390,000 employment opportunities. 

There are four main terminals, namely Norfolk International Terminal (NIT) at Norfolk, Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) at Portsmouth, Newport News Marine Terminal (NNMT) at Newport News, and Virginia International Gateway (VIG) at Portsmouth. 

These ports make it an attractive area for foreign investment. Additionally, the port also incorporates a dry port. It’s called Virginia Inland Port (VIP) at Front Royal, guaranteeing perfect inland transportation of goods. 

The output revenue generates 23 billion dollars and 2.1 billion dollars of local and state taxes. Undoubtedly, this is a respected figure for the port of Virginia. 

Moreover, the vast capacity of carrying 3.5 million TEUs of cargo, along with the promising future of the port, also strongly attracts investors.

Another good feature of the port of Virginia is its well-maintained railway network that enables the smooth transport of products to and from the port. 

#6 The Port of Houston

The Port of Houston

The trading operations from Houston contribute a considerable amount of revenue to the economy of the United States. As a result, the port of Houston is one of the largest in the US.

Being a close neighbor to the Gulf of Mexico, the port of Houston is one of the busiest in the US and stands on a 50-mile-long shoreline. 

Being part of the most popular state in the US, Texas, several public and private companies surround the port -including a multi-billion petrochemical complex. 

The port has two massive terminals that can handle cargo operations of up to 3.1 million TEUs. These are the Barbours Cut at Morgan’s Point and Bayport at Pasadena. Major export commodities include fertilizers, metal, petroleum, oils, and plastic products.

Moreover, the port’s contribution to the economy of the US is quite substantial since its economic activities amount to up to 339 billion dollars in Texas, making up almost 20% of the state’s GDP. 

Furthermore, the port proves to be a life changer for many people. Over the years it has created 3.2 million employment opportunities.

On an international level, the port of Houston is an essential gateway for trade with Asian and European countries.

If you’re still inclined to learn more about activities at the port of Houston, click here.

#7 The Port of Seattle -Tacoma

The Port of Houston

The port of Seattle is the leading economic booster of western America due to its massive airport and cargo terminals in Seattle, Washington.

The ports of Seattle and Tacoma reached an agreement in 2014, the Northern seaport Alliance (NSA). This concluded to carry forward joint trading operations, greatly amplifying the country’s annual revenue due to collective trading cycles. 

Both ports are known for exporting agricultural products and electronic gadgets. Moreover, terminal 86 of the port of Seattle specializes in transporting grain from vehicles to silos for further loading into ships for export. 

The vast capacity of the ports, approximately 3 million TEUs, makes them the most industrious of the ports in the US. 

Besides, the excellent infrastructure that attracts enormous investment includes three airports, two freight terminals, a cruise terminal, and thousands of acres of industrial tidelands. 

The port works for leading companies such as Horizon Lines and Maersk. Likewise, it is home to the largest dry ports in the country.

#8 The Port of South Louisiana

Port of Louisiana

The Port of South Louisiana is an excellent trading hub in the US. It exceeds up to 55 miles (87 km) in the distance along the Mississippi river and is centered at LaPlace; the headquarter of the port.

The primary trading commodities at the port of South Louisiana include grains and petroleum. These items are the reason for the industrial development around the seaport. It has given rise to grain storage and petrochemical refining industries and warehouses. 

Moreover, the active infrastructure (including the airport, railway networks, and highways) ensure the smooth transport of goods to and from the cargo terminals. 

On top of that, the South Louisiana port can support 13 berths, 4000 vessels, and 55,000 barge movements. Additionally, the port has created thousands of employment opportunities for the locals. 

The highest recorded capacity for handling cargo at the port of South Louisiana is 238 megatons, mainly containing grains and petroleum as the export products. 

#9 The Port of Charleston

The Port of Charleston

Being the most active trading hub of South Carolina, the port of Charleston operates under the supervision of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA). It is one of the busiest ports in the United States. 

Its 52 feet deep harbor makes it the deepest port on the eastern coast of the US. The gigantic trading terminal can handle bulk cargo amounting to 2.55 million TEUs. 

With an amplified trading cycle of imports and exports, the port of Charleston contributes to transporting over 72 billion dollars worth of cargo globally. 

The trading activities include transporting motor vehicles, coal, petroleum, and steel. This is made possible by the six terminals at the port, namely Union Pier, Columbus Street, Wando Welch, Veterans, North Charleston, and Hugh K. Leatherman terminals. 

In the long term, the port of Charleston will experience further developments. The SCPA has invested vast sums of money in expanding the port by constructing a new terminal and deepening the harbor. 

The Final Word

the largest ports in the united states

You might have heard the famous line, ‘the earth is a global village’. It readily applies to the American seaports since their trading operations have brought the world closer together by promoting friendly ties with trading partners across the globe. 

Such is the importance of large ports to the United States that further investment and sustainability programs are continuously introduced. They strive to cater to the increasing demand for exports in a budget-friendly manner. 

Thank you for reading this article! If you enjoyed this read, we’re guessing you’ll also enjoy our post on the Largest Dams in the United States.

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