American Society of Civil Engineers

The Floaterm Concept: Reducing Terminal Congestion with Waterside Cranes

by Michael Jordan, (SE, CEO, Liftech Consultants Inc., 344 20th Street, Suite 360, Oakland, CA 94612: E-mail:, Catherine Morris, (SE, Vice President, Liftech Consultants Inc. E-mail:, and Anna Dix, (Structural Designer, Liftech Consultants Inc. E-mail:
Section: Terminal Planning and Vessel/Equipment Trends, pp. 1-10, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Ports 2007: 30 Years of Sharing Ideas: 1977-2007
Abstract: Container terminals are becoming increasingly more congested and expensive to operate. Highways and railways are already congested by container traffic and this congestion will worsen. In 2006, Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, and the US. Department of Transportation expressed serious concerns about congestion. Norman Mineta called congestion one of the single largest threats to the economy. He further emphasized, "We need a new approach and we need it now." The USDOT issued the National Strategy to Reduce Congestion that provides a plan for federal, state, and local officials to tackle congestion. Pollution from port operations is also a rising concern. These factors create a growing need for new, more economical terminal operation methods. Floaterm is a concept that could help reduce pollution and congestion at ports and the arteries feeding them. The Floaterm concept utilizes waterside container cranes on a barge to form, in effect, an offshore wharf. The container ship is moored to the crane barge or vice versa. Containers are transferred from the ship to the barge deck or to feeder barges. The concept was originally developed by Liftech in 2000 at the suggestion of the Port of Oakland Executive Director Charles Foster. Simultaneously, Dr. Asaf Ashar of Louisiana State University developed a parallel concept. Investigators at Delft University studied the Floaterm concept in 2005. Although the concept may not be economically viable at this time, the costs of conventional waterfront terminal development and operations combined with the associated congestion and pollution, will eventually justify full development of the Floaterm concept.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Freight terminals