Agile Port Systems

An Agile Port is a marine terminal or system of terminals capable of accommodating varying cargo quantities and types while minimizing operation interruptions within the terminal. Technology applications and modified business practices are used to increase efficiency, productivity and security within the terminal to make it more flexible. Today, there are a number of technologies and business practices that are in use or are being considered for use for terminal application that provide increased benefits and efficiency. Agile Ports have the flexibility to allocate commercial throughput capacity and infrastructure for military loading operations as well. In addition, an Agile Port has the capability to accommodate a variety of vessel types such as container, breakbulk, roll on-roll off or high speed sealift. Whereas many commercial terminals are easily affected by changes in cargo flow (i.e. cargo dwell times, arrival/departure patterns of truck and rail cars, vessel scheduling) an Agile Port system can accommodate these changes. Through the use of Information Technologies (IT) and other business practices within the marine terminal communications between operations, management of truck traffic, rail car loading/unloading, vessel scheduling and loading/unloading decreased cargo dwell time can be achieved and increased cargo throughput capability can be reached.

The U.S. military is now relying more heavily on commercial ports to deploy forces from the Continental United States (CONUS) to the military contingency areas (from the fort to the foxhole). The marine terminal is a key component of the commercial assets that would be used by the military. The military’s requirements include the ability to surge forces and cargo through a commercial port, using commercial infrastructure and assets. These assets could include but are not limited to equipment, IT capabilities and communication platforms.

The Maritime Administration is working with a number of organizations to review, demonstrate, and further the goal of reaching a nation-wide Agile Port System. By working with both the public and private sectors, ports are being encouraged to incorporate Agile Port attributes into their everyday operations. The Maritime Administration is working with:

  • Cargo Handling Cooperative Program
  • U.S. Transportation Command
  • Hawaii Harbor,
  • Port of Anchorage
  • Port of Guam


Robert Bouchard, Director
Office of Infrastructure Development and Congestion Mitigation
Maritime Administration
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE (MAR-510, #W21-308)
Washington, DC 20590
Tel.: (202) 366-5076
Fax: (202) 366-6988