The marine freight waterways in Washington state consists of the Pacific Ocean, the Puget Sound, and the Columbia-Snake River System. These waterways, combined with commercial ports, terminals, locks, and vessels, comprise the marine system. Marine freight supports international trade by providing safe, efficient, and cost-effective transportation options for shippers.
In Washington, there are 11 deep-draft ports capable of handling ocean-going vessels: one in Grays Harbor on the Pacific coast; three on the Columbia River (Longview, Kalama and Vancouver, Wash.), and seven located in the Salish Sea (Port Angeles, Bellingham, Anacortes, Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia). The largest ports in Washington are the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, which together rank third among North American ports in total container traffic and are ranked fourth-largest port by export value.
In Washington, there are 17 barge intermodal facilities on the Columbia-Snake River System. Eight locks between Portland (Oregon), Vancouver (Washington) and Lewiston (Idaho) allow barge traffic along 360 miles of this inland waterway. The Ports of Klickitat, Pasco, Kennewick and Benton are served by barge along the Columbia River. The Ports of Whitman County, Walla Walla and Clarkston are served by barge along on the Snake River. In addition, freight barge traffic also travels between Puget Sound ports and Alaska.