“What should be taken into account is that we grew in spite of a weak economy and some larger trade issues that we had absolutely no control over that had an adverse impact on our volumes,” said Virginia Port Authority (VPA) executive director Jerry Bridges.
Furthermore, he said: “Posting positive numbers under those conditions tells me that 2012 is going to be different: The economy continues to inch forward, there is considerable interest in the Richmond barge service, CSX has started its on-dock rail operation, both NS and CSX have expanded their rail reach from our port and we have multiple port users that are coming on-line in the later part of this year.
An important development is the fact that we have had very productive discussions with some ocean carriers that are considering a change in their East Coast port rotations in order to take advantage of our deep water.”
These discussions have just borne fruit with the announcement that Virginia is to benefit from MSC’s (Mediterranean Shipping Co.) plans to shuffle the US East Coast port rotation of its Golden Gate Service from the Far East in February this year.
The service will stop in Virginia twice during its East Coast port rotation; its last stop will be in Virginia before heading back to Asia. That last stop is important because MSC can take advantage of the deepest shipping channels on the East Coast and sail full-laden ships without regard to depth or height restrictions.
“It gives us the opportunity to capture more export traffic and take advantage of MSC’s big ships — load them heavy — and capitalise on our 50-foot channels,” said Bridges.”We expect to pick up more export cargo coming New York, Northern Virginia/Washington, DC and North Carolina.”
In the Golden Gate service MSC employs vessels in excess of 9,200 teu. At other East Coast ports those vessels cannot operate fully-laden because of depth or height restrictions. Making Virginia the last East Coast call sets MSC up to begin capitalizing on the on-dock rail capabilities offered at The Port of Virginia and the economies those large ships offer.
“While other East Coast ports are battling one another over federal dollars to dredge to get ready for the opening of an expanded Panama Canal, Virginia is ready (for) for the big ships that will come through both the Panama and Suez canals,” Bridges said.
The revised port rotation of the Golden Gate Service will be: Hong Kong, Chiwan, Yantian, Shanghai, Ningbo, Singapore, Salalah, Suez Canal transit, New York, Norfolk, Baltimore, Savannah, Freeport (Bahamas), Charleston, Norfolk, Suez Canal transit, Jeddah, Colombo, Singapore, Chiwan and back to Hong Kong.