• ITVI.USA
    15,411.130
    -4.180
    0%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.740
    -0.021
    -0.8%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    0.000
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,375.870
    -11.650
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,411.130
    -4.180
    0%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.740
    -0.021
    -0.8%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.110
    0.000
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,375.870
    -11.650
    -0.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American Shipper

Port of Virginia aims for more transshipment cargo

Officials at the Port of Virginia said they can expand barge service to help liner carriers streamline port networks, but the Port of Baltimore said it has advantages that appeal to carriers and shippers.

   A new direct liner service to Baltimore cut into the Port of Virginia’s container business that moves by barge during the fiscal year ended June 30, but the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) officials say the trend toward big ships creates an opportunity to capture cargo transiting the Chesapeake Bay.
   Since the opening of the expanded section of the Panama Canal in June, several vessels ranging from 8,000-10,000 TEUs have called at East Coast ports such as Miami, Charleston, Savannah, Virginia and New York/New Jersey. Analysts say that with big vessels, economics dictate that they discharge and load cargo at fewer ports.
   Overall barge traffic at the Port of Virginia through the first half of the year plunged 26 percent, to 17,747 lifts, versus the same period last year. Container-on-barge moves were also off by more than a quarter to 41,323 containers during the fiscal year ended June 30.
   The VPA has developed barge services, operated by private companies, between its marine terminals in Hampton Roads and Richmond, as well as Baltimore and Philadelphia. The container-on-barge services are designed to eliminate trucks from the highways and reduce diesel pollution for commodities that are not extremely time-sensitive. They also allow ocean carriers to load and unload at a port next to the Atlantic Ocean, saving them the time, pilot fees and fuel expense of sailing 175 miles up the Chesapeake to Baltimore, and back.
   The main reason for the drop in barge moves from the Port of Virginia was a realignment of vessel services by the 2M Alliance of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) that shifted some of Virginia’s normal barge cargo onto a direct vessel call to Baltimore.
   “As ships get larger, it doesn’t make sense for them to make so many calls up and down the East Coast. So we will start to see, I think, more and more transshipment where they unload here and then use barges along our marine highway,” Cathie Vick, the VPA’s chief public affairs officer, said Wednesday during a briefing for reporters and congressional staff members held in a conference room at the Virginia International Gateway (VIG) terminal in Portsmouth.
   The Port of Virginia has experienced explosive container growth the past three years and has launched a massive infrastructure modernization plan to significantly increase capacity and efficiency at its terminals to handle increasing demand for its transportation service.
   “We are actually in talks with the barge service provider [Columbia Coastal Transport] to continue developing that service to ensure we have the ability to attract cargo into Virginia and indirectly serve the Baltimore market,” Chief Operations Officer Shawn Tibbetts, added.
   The Port of Virginia has the advantage of being the only port north of Miami at the moment to have unrestricted access with a 50-foot harbor. It can simultaneously handle several large vessels at multiple berths at the VIG and Norfolk International Terminal. The Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore has one berth with a 50-foot depth.
   VPA officials express confidence that the Port of Virginia will become one of three primary hubs for liner routes on the East Coast.
   The port authority has applied to the U.S. Maritime Administration to have the Baltimore and Philadelphia routes officially designated marine highways, which would make the port and its partners eligible for grant funds and other resources to invest in equipment and other needs, Vick said.
   “We don’t expect to be bypassed,” Maryland Port Administration spokesman Richard Scher responded via e-mail. “We’re one of only a few East Coast ports that today can handle the big ships. We have the deep channel, deep berth and neo-Panamax cranes. Baltimore averages 75 container moves per hour per berth which is the fastest rate among all U.S. ports. We also are located within the third-largest U.S. consumer market which gives us a huge local consumption. There are too many advantages here to ignore.”
   The figure of 75 moves refers to ship-to-shore crane lifts and stacking lifts by cargo handling equipment.
   Baltimore is recognized as one of the more efficient ports in the United States, with crane moves of nearly 40 per hour. Last year, Maersk added three service calls in Baltimore from the Far East, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, including its vessel-sharing service with MSC, which has a strong business relationship with Seagirt operator Ports America and has been a port user for many years.
   Maersk officials cited Baltimore’s efficiency as a key reason for doing business there, saying it was congestion free because of its ability to turn trucks making double moves in about 50 minutes.

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