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J.B. Hunt to expedite delivery of new containers, customer freight

Cargo vessel charter to bypass supply chain bottlenecks

J.B. Hunt expedites ocean voyage of cargo, new containers (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

J.B. Hunt Transport Services announced Thursday that it has entered a long-term agreement to expedite the delivery of new intermodal containers as well the freight of its customers. A multivessel agreement with Swire Shipping Pte. is expected to provide an accelerated shipment option for the company’s customers that ship cargo from Asia to the U.S.

A pair of cargo ships named after J.B. Hunt’s founders, Johnnie Bryan “J.B.” and Johnelle are part of the fleet executing the deliveries. Cargo vessel Johnelle has already docked at the Port of Everett in Washington. It delivered more than 250 containers bound for service in J.B. Hunt’s (NASDAQ: JBHT) intermodal fleet of more than 109,000 units. A second vessel, the Johnnie Bryan, is expected to reach the Port of Hueneme in Southern California in July with additional containers.

“This is yet another example of our people listening to the needs of customers and developing a creative solution to efficiently deliver on their capacity needs,” stated John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt, in a press release. “It is our honor to name two of the vessels helping us charter new waters this year after the original visionaries who knew the potential of what our company could be.”

The agreement provides ongoing cargo service from select ports in China (Shenzhen, Qingdao and Shanghai) to California and the Pacific Northwest. J.B. Hunt expects the charters to improve transit times for customers, which have felt the impacts from equipment and labor constraints that have resulted in slower intermodal service.

In March, J.B. Hunt announced a joint initiative with BNSF Railway (NYSE: BRK.B) to improve capacity and service times. Over the next three to five years, J.B. Hunt expects to increase its container fleet to 150,000 units. The company’s intermodal segment generated nearly $5.5 billion in revenue during 2021.

The capacity increases are also expected to address carbon emissions standards and environmental, social and governance initiatives for its customers. Compared to over-the-road trucking, a shipment’s emissions can be reduced by as much as 60% when the bulk of the miles take place on a railroad. The company estimates that it reduced CO2 emissions by 3.5 million metric tons in 2021 converting freight from road to rail.

“First, we’re adding intermodal capacity, which will provide customers with more opportunity to leverage the cost-savings and sustainability benefits that J.B. Hunt Intermodal offers,” said Darren Field, president of intermodal and EVP. “Second, we’re greatly reducing the time it takes for customers’ freight originating overseas to be out for delivery in the U.S., something that has troubled the industry for years.”

More FreightWaves articles by Todd Maiden

Todd Maiden

Based in Richmond, VA, Todd is the finance editor at FreightWaves. Prior to joining FreightWaves, he covered the TLs, LTLs, railroads and brokers for RBC Capital Markets and BB&T Capital Markets. Todd began his career in banking and finance before moving over to transportation equity research where he provided stock recommendations for publicly traded transportation companies.