“The most challenging part of a deployment operation is ensuring the synchronization of all of the elements. It is not a one-person show, it’s a team effort,” said Army Lt. Col. Altwan Whitfield, commander of the 841st Transportation Battalion.
The Jacksonville Port Authority was part of a recent team effort, serving as the first of three U.S. ports to participate in a large-scale deployment of military cargo. The JAXPORT operations took place at the Florida port’s Blount Island Marine Terminal on March 25 and 26.
Stevedores with JAXPORT partner SSA Atlantic loaded about 750 tactical vehicles and pieces of equipment onto the Navy ship Bob Hope. The equipment will be used in DEFENDER-Europe, a multinational training exercise taking place across 12 European countries beginning in May.
“Exercises like this one take extensive coordination and planning — and relationships are an invaluable part of the process,” said JAXPORT Chief Operating Officer Fred Wong. “The successful execution of such a large-scale move highlights our long-standing relationships with the military, the capabilities of our workforce and facilities, as well as Jacksonville’s outstanding highway and rail connections.”
The vessel-loading operations were organized by soldiers and civilians assigned to the Blount Island-based 841st Transportation Battalion in coordination with operations officers assigned to the 597th Transportation Brigade at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and cargo specialists with the 1st Military Sealift Command from Puerto Rico and the Florida Army National Guard’s 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
As one of the nation’s 17 strategic seaports, JAXPORT is on call 24/7 to move U.S. military cargo for national defense, foreign humanitarian aid and disaster relief. JAXPORT is the only port in Florida with this designation.
The 841st Transportation Battalion is the single port manager for all Department of Defense cargo moving through seaports on the Eastern Seaboard and through the U.S. Southern Command.
Also in March, JAXPORT, located in northeast Florida, and Volusia County in central Florida signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes a working relationship to promote each other’s geographical and business advantages.
Under the agreement, JAXPORT and Volusia County will work together to attract new distribution, manufacturing and related facilities to Volusia County while also highlighting the logistics benefits of moving cargo bound for central Florida through JAXPORT.
“This type of teamwork helps market Florida’s world-class infrastructure to the world, bringing more jobs and businesses to our state while maximizing the return on the investments we’ve made for the citizens of Florida,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault.
CEO Eric Green said JAXPORT “will continue to work to leverage these investments for the benefit of our customers and community. We are thrilled to work with Volusia County as part of JAXPORT’s ongoing effort to encourage businesses who are creating goods for Florida consumers to bring their operations, cargo and jobs to our state.”
Officials from JAXPORT and Volusia County will meet regularly to share information about companies looking to expand or locate in the county and how the team can best serve them.
The agreement will complement JAXPORT’s long-standing work with JAXUSA Partnership to support global business development in the seven counties within the JAXUSA area. It also expands JAXPORT’s reach into the rapidly growing central Florida market.
Earlier in March, Green responded to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed COVID-19 relief funding of $258.2 million for Florida’s seaports.
“COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruption to the global economy and supply chain, bringing cruise business to a halt and reducing cargo volumes and revenue for Florida ports,” Green said. “Economic relief for our ports ensures we can continue to do the important work we do to connect Florida’s businesses to the global economy, create and protect Florida jobs, and do our part to help lead the economic recovery of our state.”
Port of Long Beach
The Port of Long Beach said SSA Marine is now operating the first of nine electric container yard cranes at the California port’s Pier J, “marking a significant milestone in a goal to transition to zero-emissions terminal equipment by 2030.”
The demonstration of the electric rubber-tired gantry cranes is part of the zero-emissions terminal equipment transition project, which is funded in large part by a $9.7 million California Energy Commission grant, the port said in a press release. As part of the project, 25 vehicles that are zero or near-zero emissions will be tested in a real-world setting at three of the port’s marine terminals.
“Imagine a port where a ship slows down on approach to reduce emissions, plugs into the electrical grid at berth instead of burning fuel to run vital systems and is worked by zero-emissions cranes, yard vehicles and trucks,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “That’s our reality in Long Beach, and the goals of our tests and demonstrations are to eventually make it possible to do everywhere.”
In 2017, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles approved an update to their Clean Air Action Plan, setting a goal of transitioning all terminal equipment to zero emissions by 2030.
The zero-emissions terminal transition project is anticipated to annually reduce greenhouse gases by more than 1,323 tons and smog-causing nitrogen oxides by 27 tons, the port said.
Port of New York and New Jersey
The Port of New York and New Jersey reported that after starting the year with the highest January on record for volume, it continued the record-breaking trend into February with a 7.9% increase in overall cargo activity over February 2020.
Total volume for February was 625,120 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) — the highest total volume for any February at the Port of New York and New Jersey, it said.
Imports rose 11.2%, totaling 334,176 TEUs compared to 300,445 TEUs in February 2020. Exports in February totaled 94,698 TEUs, a 16.8% decrease year-over-year from 113,801 TEUs.
Export empties increased by 18.6% in February, totaling 193,956 TEUs versus 163,564 TEUs in the second month in 2020. From the beginning of January through the end of February, export empties reached 433,465 TEUs, a 28.5% increase over the 337,456 TEUs recorded in the same period of 2020.
Rail volume in February totaled 49,540 containers, a 10.9% year-over-year decrease. The port attributed the decline “in part to adverse weather in the Midwest” and said rail volume for the first two months of the year was up 1.2% from the same period in 2020.
Auto volume remained strong in February with 41,580 autos moved through the Port of New York and New Jersey, a 10.6% increase compared to the same month last year. Through February 2021, auto volume was up 12% year-over-year, the port said.
The Port of New York and New Jersey reports its volumes about a month later than other U.S. ports.
Port of Wilmington
GT USA Wilmington, the operator of the Delaware port, last month welcomed the M/V Dole Maya on its first call at the Wilmington Marine Terminal.
“We are delighted to welcome the M/V Dole Maya to the Port of Wilmington on her maiden voyage. It is a testament to our strong relationship with the Dole group, as well as our combined commitment to our partnership in Wilmington, delivering the highest-quality produce, operational efficiency and value to the fresh fruit supply chain,” GT Wilmington CEO Eric Casey said in a statement.
The newbuild has the capacity to carry more than 900 forty-foot equivalent units of refrigerated containers.
Nelson Montoya, president of Dole Fresh Fruit North America, said the vessel is built to meet strict emission mandates, is equipped with the latest exhaust gas scrubbing technology and “marks one more way we are providing fruit with a reduced carbon footprint as part of The Dole Way promise. Dole Maya is not only very economical in fuel and energy consumption but also meets the strict present-day emission mandates that demand a substantial reduction in CO2, SOx and NOx gases.”
GT Wilmington said it has its own robust corporate social responsibility strategy, which includes introducing environmentally friendly cargo-handling equipment and water recycling, waste reduction and energy conserving programs across its terminals.