gCaptain Editorial Article: Make NYC Greener With Short Sea Shipping

The last time my family visited Manhattan we didn’t even consider driving onto the island. We used a parking lot for the Statue of Liberty & used a ferry. To me, it would make sense to get packages & cargo there the same way. I’m surprised Amazon doesn’t have their own ferry service for NYC.

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Is there a way for Short Sea Shipping to be an effective or economic alternative without an elaborate faster rail component? It seems integral to getting lories moving one mere FEU off the road.

everything boils down to stevedoring fees in the U.S. It is simply prohibitively expensive to load and discharge cargo with the current rates the longshoremen are charging versus trucking for instance.


Any ideas what they are going to do when/if they reduce the amount of highways around NYC? I think for that & other cities surounded by water with lots of congestion a launch service delivery system could work. Have an Amazon/UPS type small boats drop off on the waterfront & have runners go throughout the city to deliver packages. But you are right about the longshoremen. They would shut down all the ports on the upper east coast if anyone tried to move in on their territory. Also, I don’t think such a system would create too many maritime jobs but it would prevent trucks going through slow tunnels & over bridges, might be greener?

Good article but who is this Konrad guy? Only an idiot would allow himself to be quoted in a major publication saying an active duty four-star Admiral is “asleep at the wheel”.


More likely on an autopilot system that no one knows how to operate.


Good idea. London missed their chance with this. After the cargo traffic moved south down the Thames in the 1970s an entire port infrastructure was left in the docklands, scaled for small vessel deliveries, with a canal network that could have been used to help make non-truck deliveries, as you said. In the 80s and 90s it was all turned into housing, retail, etc… like Canary Wharf.

None one saw Amazon coming.

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I am in NYC, I have worked exclusively on local routes for the last 10 years. I have moved scrap metal, dirt, aggregate and petroleum products.

We are still holding on to a few smaller oil terminals most have closed over the years. Squeezed out by regulations and real estate developers. We just lost two good ones in the last year. Schildwachter oil in the Bronx has sold heating oil to Bronx residents since my father was a kid, probably longer. Sprague Energy just closed its Mt Vernon NY terminal, this was the last of 10 or 11 oil terminals in Eastchester Creek.

Looking around, most of the sand docks, lumber docks are all gone. We are down to a handful of docks handling cement, scrap, aggregate, oil, and of course garbage and recycling… Transporting scrap by barge is only slightly cheaper than truck.

NYC has its head up it ass, they are busy building waterfront parks and promenades. They did however build out its fast ferry system, however they did it backwards. They started in Brooklyn. Brooklyn already has good mass transit. They should have started in all of the 2 fare zones, like the Northeast Bronx, Rockaway, Northern Queens etc.

They could alleviate the housing crisis by embracing house boats, but they are worried about lost taxes. I always envisioned canal style boats lining the Harlem River and some of the creeks.

When I heard Amazon was moving into Long Island city. I envisioned landing container barges at Dutch Kills or Newtown Creek. It would save them millions over trucking everything from Elizabeth, but AOC ruined that deal before it started.


It seems like every American city has fewer active docks than there use to be.

New docks have an overly expensive multi year local, state, and federal permit process. NIMBYs can, and often do, litigate the permits and hold up the projects for several years.

There are many abandoned old docks in prime locations in American cities. A lot of them have been vacant for 40 years or more. Most of them are subject to decades old pollution and potential environmental liability under CERCLA, better known as the Superfund Law. This makes it very very difficult and very very expensive to redevelop these old “Brown Field” sites. It’s much cheaper and faster to build a new dock in a previously undeveloped “Green Field” site in a less desirable location, but that still takes years.

Although short sea shipping is the cleanest and greenest method of transportation, and it could take a lot of congestion off the roads, it is being held hostage to environmental laws. Not to mention the longshoremen’s union.

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