CMA CGM ships face delays due to Florence; North Carolina ports to shut tomorrow

North Carolina’s Port of Morehead City ( Photo: NC Ports Authority )

Vessels will be delayed until ports reopen

CMA CGM says four containerships bound for the U.S. East Coast will change schedules due to the approach of Hurricane Florence.

Meanwhile, North Carolina’s two main ports will shut down Wednesday, adding to the list of sites feeling the impact of the storm.

The National Hurricane Center put an area just south of Charleston, South Carolina on up to the Virginia-North Carolina border under hurricane and storm surge watch for the next 48 hours due to the category 5 storm.

Florence is now located some 845 miles east-southeast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. The North Carolina State Ports Authority says the U.S. Coast Guard will shut the Cape Fear River area to ship traffic by 6 pm Wednesday.

OOCL Logistics said in an operational update that Wilmington, Norfolk and Charleston are the ports most vulnerable to the storm. Norfolk and Charleston are among the busiest ports on the U.S. East Coast after New York-New Jersey and Savannah.

The Port of Virginia reported container volumes of 1.6 million twenty foot equivalent (teus) moving through Norfolk-area ports for the year-to-date ended July. The South Carolina Ports Authority reported just over 1.5 million teus of containers moving through its ports year-to-date through August.

CMA CGM notified customers that severals of its ships scheduled to arrive in Norfolk in the coming days are in “the storm’s path (and) are changing their routings and port schedules.” The Port of Virginia says Norfolk ports will be closed as of Wednesday due to the storm.

The vessels include the APL Denver, which is part of CMA CGM’s Amerigo service between the Mediterranean and the U.S. East Coast; the CMA CGM Loire and CMA CGM Rhone, which are part of the Columbus service between Asia and the U.S. East Coast; and the GSL Tianjin, which is part of the line’s India-U.S. service.

The vessels will arrive in Norfolk after the storm passes and the port reopens, CMA CGM said. CSX’s intermodal service out of Norfolk has already stopped accepting containers, CMA CGM said. Norfolk Southern has stated that it will issue embargoes for affected locations, but has not done so yet.

To the south, the Port of Wilmington, North Carolina’s main container port, will keep extended gate hours through 7 pm tonight for container pick-up and drop-off. But all commercial truck traffic for both Wilmington and Port of Morehead City will close Wednesday.

The Port of Wilmington says the U.S. Coast Guard will halt all ship traffic on the Cape Fear River by 6 pm Wednesday.Complete Hurricane Florence Coverage

Show More

Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.