Port of Oakland picks longtime shipping vet as Maritime Director

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor · June 12, 2020

Longtime shipping industry executive Bryan Brandes has been named Maritime Director at the Port of Oakland.

Port spokesmen said today he was selected following a nationwide search before naming the 25-year maritime veteran, who replaces John Driscoll.

As reported in LM, Driscoll recently left to manage the Alabama State Port Authority.

Brandes will lead a staff of 20 responsible for one of the nation’s 10 largest container seaports. Oakland’s Maritime Director oversees everything from facilities management to real estate negotiations.

“Bryan is coming in at a crucial time for us and we’re eager to put his skill and industry experience to work,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan. “He knows the players, knows the business and knows what it takes for us to succeed.”

The new Maritime Director arrives in Oakland with executive experience gained at shipping lines and marine terminals. He worked with ocean carriers Maersk Line and CMA-CGM as well as APM Terminals. Most recently, Brandes was Vice President, Pacific Southwest Region Operations for FlexiVan Leasing, an intermodal chassis leasing company.

Oakland annually handles the equivalent of 2.5 million 20-foot cargo containers. It’s known as one of the leading gateways to Asia for U.S. exports – especially farm goods. Cargo volume has declined 7.8 percent in 2020 due to the economic fallout from coronavirus.

As reported here this week, Port of Oakland loaded container volume decreased 12.7 percent last month from May 2019 totals.

Port leaders admit Brandes faces two challenges: recovery from the economic wallop and shaping Oakland’s maritime future.

The port and business partners have invested millions this decade in new logistics capabilities. Oakland is now upgrading to handle the latest class of ultra large container vessels.

“The port has operated smoothly throughout the pandemic so we’re confident about recovery,” said Brandes. Who adds that Oakland has a “sound foundation.”

Nonetheless, the challenges are daunting.

West Coast ports’ market share has declined 19.4 percent since 2006, a concerning trajectory that puts port and logistic jobs at increasing risk, according to a new briefing paper released recently by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA).

The analysis, Loss of Market Share at U.S. West Coast Ports by international trade economist JockO’Connell, details the continuous loss of cargo from ports along the Western United States to East Coast and Gulf Coast ports.

June 12, 2020