Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Bruce E. Marti


Containerization as a means of cargo transport represents the most progressive technological advance in shipping today. The efficiency that containerization presents to shippers has made it the preferred means of cargo transport by sea and land. As containerization continues to grow throughout the world, semi-autonomous public ports in the United States compete for larger shares of high valued cargo. Competition among ports has led to the extensive development of container handling facilities throughout the United States and created a certain degree of unneeded capacity.

The cost of this overcapacity to society can be measured in financial waste, opportunity cost of land, and environmental damage from coastal development. Despite its political implications, no federal policy or management mechanism exists to solve the problem.

This thesis demonstrates that overcapacity at container facilities exists and demands political attention as a public welfare issue. It is suggested that . , capacity analysis, if utilized by ports, can serve as a mechanism to prevent and correct the social inefficiencies of overcapacity from port competition. By utilizing a capacity monitoring and assessment tool similar to the method used in this thesis, government permit decision-makers and ports can produce more information to better make port development decisions. On a broad level, available capacity information can improve U.S. port facility development project planning.

This document quantitatively demonstrates the extent of container terminal excess among large ports (100,000 + TEUs annually) along the U.S. mid-Atlantic port range and presents evidence of a continuing overcapacity problem. Evidence supports the hypothesis that significant overcapacity resulting in social costs does indeed exist and requires political attention as a societal issue.



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