Port of Oakland breaks cargo record

Cargo volume at the Port of Oakland has reached an all-time high, port officials said Tuesday.

The Port said that it handled the equivalent of 2.394 million 20-foot freight containers in 2014, slightly more than the previous record of 2.391 million boxes that were moved in 2006.

Port maritime director John Driscoll said in a statement:

“An unprecedented series of events has brought us to this point. It’s our job now to efficiently manage the growth.”

Port of Oakland officials said three factors have contributed to the cargo surge — stronger U.S. demand for Asian manufactured goods, the port’s own marketing efforts and cargo diversions from congested Southern California ports.

A freight backlog at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has rerouted thousands of containers to Oakland, port officials said. As a result, the Port of Oakland handled 74,356 loaded import containers in December, which was the most since May.

Port officials said the freight backlog has temporarily slowed cargo throughput. They alleged that a labor dispute between waterfront employers and dockworkers is magnifying the slowdown.

Port officials said 10 to 15 ships are anchored in the San Francisco Bay every day while awaiting berths at Oakland marine terminals and some truckers report waits of several hours to pick up cargo. The current situation is expected to persist until labor and management agree on a new contract, port officials said.

The Port of Oakland said overall container volume, which includes imports and exports, increased 2 percent in 2014. Port officials said import volume for the year increased 5.3 percent. They said that figure is important because they have made import growth a strategic business objective