"K" Line marks 25 years at Port of Tacoma

When the ship Chicago Bridge arrived Sunday in Tacoma, it marked the 25th anniversary of Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. (“K” Line) calls at the Port of Tacoma. According to Port officials, the Japan-based carrier, with its distinctive red containers, is the longest-calling international shipping line at the Port.

“We are proud of and thankful for the close partnership that has allowed both ‘K’ Line and the Port of Tacoma to grow over the years,” said Tong Zhu, the Port’s chief commercial officer.

When “K” Line first called Tacoma in 1988, its ships berthed at a 37-acre terminal on the Sitcum Waterway. It expanded in 2005 to the 93-acre Husky Terminal on the Blair Waterway. Both terminals are served by the North Intermodal Yard, whose efficient on-dock rail originally attracted “K” Line to Tacoma.

When “K” Line first arrived, it sent two outbound trains of 40-plus rail cars each week to the Midwest and East Coast. Back then its weekly ship call brought in about 1,700 containers. It now departs six trains of 100 cars each week, plus an additional 125 or more to and from Portland. Echoing the trend of larger ships in the trans-Pacific trade, the Chicago Bridge, which arrived Monday, holds almost 6,000 container units.

Improvements are under way to add 100-gauge crane rail to Pier 3 and redesign an aligned Pier 4 at Husky Terminal to accommodate simultaneous berthing of larger ships in the future.