Container service returning to Port of Portland's abandoned Terminal 6

Container service at the Port of Portland Terminal 6, abandoned for a year and a half, will return in the new year, Gov. Kate Brown and port officials announced on Monday.

Starting in January, Swire Shipping will call at the port “likely monthly,” officials said, with shipments of Daimler Trucks’ Western Star trucks to Australia, export containers going to Australia and New Zealand, and import containers coming from Asia, officials said.

Container service at the port had unraveled and finally vanished after continuing disputes between ICTSI Oregon Inc., the firm hired to manage service at Terminal 6, and the International Longshore Workers Union.

In February 2015, Hanjin Shipping, which accounted for about 80 percent of T6's container volume, said it was pulling out of Portland. Two other carriers soon followed suit and no vessels have called on T6 since May 2016.

In February, the port and ICTSI Oregon Inc. announced a negotiated end to the company's 25-year lease agreement to operate Terminal 6. Bill Wyatt, the port's executive director at the time, called it "a new path to redefine our future in this business and launch new strategies to bring the terminal back to life."

Wyatt's successor, Curtis Robinhold, said the arrival of Swire “signals that T-6 is open for business."

The port's biggest hurdle in resuming service at T6 has been its frayed relationship with longshore labor at the terminal. Hanjin and the container shipping companies initially vacated Portland in 2015 because of labor protests at T6 that brought production to a standstill.

In an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Robinhold said he's been working with unions — particularly the ILWU — to repair the relationship and end any existing litigation. An ILWU spokeswoman couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

“We have essentially resolved all of the lawsuits between the Port of Portland and the Longshoremen,” he told OPB. “What we’ve essentially said is we want to push the reset button, get going again and really give it a try. And if we can’t, we’re going to have to have some harder conversation about what to do with T6. This is really our last meaningful chance to get container service started again.”

"Not only does the container service support jobs for Oregonians, it's going to give more options to Oregon companies as we work to maximize Terminal 6,” Brown said in the release. “We’ve been working hard to expand export options to our Oregon business, which is why I recently lead a trade mission to Asia.”

© 2017 KGW-TV


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