Port of Savannah still open but ports to the north remain closed as Florence approaches land

  Satellite imagery of Florence bearing down on Carolinas (Photo: NOAA)
Satellite imagery of Florence bearing down on Carolinas (Photo: NOAA)

Shipping lines continue to adjust schedules and reroute vessels due to storm’s approach.

 The fourth busiest U.S. container port remains open for business despite the southward shift of Hurricane Florence. Separately, Mediterranean Shipping Company plans to skip some port calls and shelter vessels due to the storm’s approach.

The U.S. Coast Guard established a safety zone for Port of Savannah prohibiting commercial ship traffic unless expressly authorized by the Coast Guard. The safety zone is one level below a full port closure. The nearby Port of Brunswick, a large center for auto exports, remains under watch for further restrictions.

The Port of Savannah has not issued any notices that it will shut vessel and truck operations. But it says it will only take export containers for vessels sailing in the next seven days to maintain service levels.

In the Carolinas, the Port of Wilmington remains entirely shut to all commercial activity through at least Friday September 14 due to the storm. The Port of Charleston is also closed to commercial activity through Saturday with a restart possible by Sunday.

To the north, Florence has shut the main shipping channel for the Port of Virginia, with vessels only able to enter and exit with U.S. Coast Guard permission. The truck gate will close Friday, but will reopen this weekend.

MSC says the port closures will require that some port calls will be omitted and vessel arrivals will be delayed. The Bremen Belle will omit calls at Savannah and Charleston. The MSC Ornella and MSC Portugal will take eastbound containers in its place.

The MSC Marina will resume navigation to Charleston after the storm has passed. The Navios Tempo will be delayed in Wilmington. The MSC Cadiz will change its port rotation to New York first as a result of the storm. Two other MSC vessels, the Rio Negro and Busan Trader, are delayed in Baltimore.

MSC says the Norfolk Southern (NSC) and CSX (CSX) have lifted the embargo for rail containers in gating at interior ramps destined to the Port of Virginia. The terminals will be open today and will be closed tomorrow and are expected to reopen on Saturday. But gate and rail ramps are closed at Charleston.Complete Hurricane Florence Coverage

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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.