New Orleans is the biggest port in the US and the third-largest in the whole world. It is a busy shipping terminal that handles vessels having drafts up to 40 ft; it also serves smaller vessels that deal in a variety of marine service activities and transportation. It experiences a lot of river barge in terms of traffic because it is the southern terminus of the navigation system of the Mississippi River.
It has more than 180 wharves and piers that are located on either side of the Mississippi River, the Mississippi River-Gulf outlet Canal and the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal. In addition to these, more than 100 facilities for small vessels and barges are found on the waterways that are adjacent to the port. It is approximated that one-half of the deep-draft facilities are solely for public use and are operated by the Port of New Orleans Board of Commissioners.
Access to the main container terminal is via the River’s passes that require about 9 navigation hours and two pilots each way. Hurricane Katrina damaged the port, but it was quickly reopened and has since returned to normal operations for most cargo (Juhel, Kopicki, Bert, Julian 1).
The Port of New Orleans
Traditionally, the port of New Orleans has been a general cargo handling port that handles a wide range of manufactured and consumer goods, coffee, steel, natural rubber, and wood products. This port serves as the main gateway to foreign trade with Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Latin America that mainly constitute East Coast South America and Central America.
The major liner services calling the port are the Hapag Lloyd/ CP Ships, The Mediterranean Shipping line or MSC, which serves North Europe and East Coast South America, CSAV, which serves West Coast South America, and Maersk that serves Central America. The largest ships that visit the port are usually deployed on the European service MSC, with a length of 998 ft and a capacity of 6,700 TEU.
In 2007, the total projected throughput was estimated to be 258,000 TEU. In 2006 it was 100,547 TEU for Napoleon Ave and for Nashville Ave, it was 75,358 TEU. The PIERS data showed that throughput from 2001 through to 2004 remained firmly steady between 200,000 and 240,000 TEU for each year (Juhel, Kopicki, Bert, Julian 1).
The terminal at Napoleon Avenue is the major container terminal and is located at Mile 99.5 AHP. Access to the landside is through a dedicated road, the Clarence Henry Truck way. This road connects the entire River terminals complex I-10. A total berthage of 2,000 ft sums up the Napoleon Ave, 1,400 ft of which is the open dock and a transit shed of 600 ft. this terminal is part of a large complex that has a total of about 4,00o ft of berthage. This also includes the Nashville Avenue Terminal that is just adjacent to it.
Nashville Ave terminal handles break-bulk cargoes that are mainly neo-bulks such as rubber, forest products, and steel. These two complexes have a total area of 151 acres of open storage area. 61 of these acres are solely dedicated to containers, with 48 acres serving as a marshaling container yard. Four ship-to-shore multipurpose gantry cranes are equipped in the container berth.
The yard equipment constitutes a 1+5/ 1+6 rubber tire gantry cranes and also reaches stackers. There is also a computerized gate system with pre-gate parking in the terminal. Plans are underway to expand the port through the Napoleon Ave by extending the dock downriver and also adding a third berth of about 1,000-ft (Juhel, Kopicki, Bert, Julian 1).
Inland transportation modes of the port include rail connections. New Orleans is the only US port that has direct access to six Class I railroads. It is said to have unique connectivity that stems from the historical division of the United States rail systems as west or east of the Mississippi River, New Orleans being the meeting point. These railroads can be grouped depending on their main service orientation as:
- North/ South-Kansas City Southern (KCS) and Canadian National (CN);
- West/ East-Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF);
- Union Pacific (UP) West of the Mississippi River;
- CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS) east of the Mississippi River.
At the present, traffic related to the port uses mostly the North/ South railroads, because these railroads serve the main hinterland of the port which is the Midwest. For instance, using CSX and NS and taking the proximity of New Orleans to Central America as an advantage, this port could serve as an important gateway for the Central American trade of Atlanta. Dallas is also another promising market that utilizes the UP and the KSC lines. CN is the main rail service that serves Memphis and Chicago daily with a connection to Montreal.
The transit times for this service are quite advantageous in that it provides the next morning to Memphis and the second one to Chicago. The service also handles domestic cargo, which is majorly containers, whereby marine and domestic containers are carried on the same train (Juhel, Kopicki, Bert, Julian 1).
The port of New Orleans is governed by a board of commissioners of the Port of New Orleans. This board sets out policies and also regulates the commerce and traffic of the port. The board comprises a seven-member commission. The seven commissioners are not salaried and serve for a five-year term.
Board members are appointed by the Louisiana governor from a list of three nominees which is submitted by 19 civic, labor, local business, education, and maritime groups. The seven-person board is a reflection of the three parishes or county board jurisdiction, whereby four members should come from the Orleans Parish, two from the Jefferson Parish, and one member from st. Bernard Parish (Juhel, Kopicki, Bert, Julian 1).
Management labor practices in the port of New Orleans are going through major changes in their shift from confrontation to cooperation. Cooperation has helped a lot in that it counters competitive threats coming from other ports and arising mostly from intermodalism and transportation deregulation. Technological advances at the port of New Orleans has reduced the number of longshore forces needed and has also changed the skills needed of those that still remain.
The port is currently focusing on approaches aimed at improving labor or management relations among its workforce. The port has allowed the private sector to provide services to the people. The public sector here mainly acts as a planner, facilitator, developer, and also regulator, while at the same time providing connectivity to the hinterland.
The private sector on the other hand acts as a service provider, operator, and to some extent as a developer. This shift in the boundary line between the private sector and the public sector has seen the emergence of a health Pragmatism. The advantages of this approach are:
- Increased levels of service for the infrastructure users;
- Increased operations efficiency;
- Improved allocation of public funds that are limited.
This has enabled the port of New Orleans to effectively manage the competition from other ports. The port has employed the strategic management model in which it bases its developments on the port’s vision and mission. Its mission statement summarizes the functions of the port as follows, “The Board’s mission is to maximize the flow of the foreign and domestic waterborne commerce throughout the port of New Orleans”. The port ensures that all its operations are geared towards achieving this mission. The advantages of the strategic management model are:
It is to discharge the responsibility of the Board of Directors. It provides a discipline that has enabled the Board and the senior management to plan for the organization’s future. It has provided a framework through which the port staff can make day-to-day operational decisions.
The strategy gives the port’s staff a vision for the future, it confirms the port’s purpose and values of an organization, sets objectives, clarifies threats and opportunities, determines methods to leverage strengths, and mitigate weaknesses. This has greatly helped to support the port’s success. It supports understanding and buy-ins. Through it, progress is measured. Its disadvantages are:
It requires an organization to anticipate the environment in the future in order to come up with plans, and yet it is well known that it is not easy to predict the future. There many things that can happen and destroy future plans, like what happened to the port of Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. It conflicts with the long-term benefits and the immediate results that an organization needs. It does not allow for flexibility in that some decisions will have to be forfeited just to get what the mission states.
It is hard for an organization to pull out of the initial stated aim even if eventualities come in along the way. To handle its operations well, the port of New Orleans needs to employ its systems in order to manage the complex system of port operations so that it can communicate and exchange information without the worry of losing data. It can use business process management software in order to achieve this operational efficiency. This way it will stand a better chance of handling the challenges in the port operations of today’s world (Almond & Barlow 3).
Another important decision that the port of New Orleans has made is to amend a company’s lease to expand the type of cargo that it can handle so that it does not lose its operators. The operator was Maersk Sealand that was allowed to handle cargo from any shipping line; this was to boost its competition with the port’s largest terminal operator, P&O Ports. The port has also fostered partnerships with other Louisiana ports through cooperative agreements in their endeavors that include the two ports found downstream from New Orleans (Almond & Barlow 3).
As it has been seen, the port of New Orleans is a port that is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s the fifth largest port in the United States these are statistics based on the volume of cargo handled, it is the second-largest in the state after the Port of South Louisiana. it is ranked the 12th largest in the US-based on the value of cargo. It bears the longest wharf in the whole world, which is 2.1 miles long allowing it to accommodate 15 vessels ago.
It is a major transshipment point for steel; it receives more imports of coffee than any other port in the US apart from New York/ New Jersey. It is the largest for coffee imports. In order to compete favorably with other ports, the port of New Orleans has allowed the private sector to carry out some of the port’s operations.
It has employed the strategic management model in line with its mission to oversee that its goals are achieved. And as it has been shown this kind of management has its advantages and disadvantages; however the disadvantages will only be felt if the management model is wrongly applied.