Virginia and South Carolina Port Volumes Reflect East Coast Challenges and Opportunities
East Coast ports have faced higher volumes as shippers seek to avoid congestion at West Coast ports. This increased activity has resulted in volume growth in some ports and backup processing in others.
“Most Productive July” in Port of Virginia
July was a record month at the Port of Virginia, with the Norfolk complex handling nearly 318,000 twenty-foot equivalents, an 8.4% gain over July 2021.
Last month was “the most productive July in port history,” and it was the fourth consecutive month that volumes exceeded 317,000 units, the Port Authority of Virginia said Wednesday.
Of this total, imports loaded in July amounted to 149,829 TEUs, up 4.8% year-on-year. Meanwhile, loaded exports totaled 85,170 TEUs, up 5.1% from a year ago.
Container tonnage climbed 5.7% to 2.2 million TEUs, but general cargo tonnage fell 17.5% to 7,402 TEUs.
The Port believes 2022 could potentially be the best-performing calendar year on record, particularly if business remains strong during the peak retail months leading up to the holiday season, according to Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.
“What we are seeing is growing interest from shipping companies and cargo owners who are working to restore some predictability and reliability to their ship services and supply chains. We have a proven track record of success in what remains a challenging business environment and the result is growth at the Port of Virginia,” Edwards said.
He noted that the port introduced 10 new vessel services in the past 12 months, including five in the past five months.
July volumes increase at South Carolina ports after June drop
Congestion in some of the East Coast ports has slowed volume throughput, which the South Carolina Ports Authority is trying to improve.
SC Ports handled 216,097 TEUs at the Port of Charleston’s Wando Welch, North Charleston and Leatherman terminals in July, up 10% from June’s total of 196,225, but down 11.7% from the total of 244,821 TEUs from July 2021.
SC Ports also handled 119,872 quayside containers in July, up 9.8% from 109,124 quayside containers in June, but down 12.6% from 137,158 quayside containers last July .
To improve supply chain flows, SC Ports has extended Sunday hours of operation for motor carriers, and this extension will last through at least peak season. SC Ports also said it was prioritizing mooring for vessels carrying more cargo, launched a port-owned and operated chassis pool and hired more staff to handle the influx of cargo. . SC Ports also said it has significantly improved rail car dwell times.
SC Ports said no ships had been waiting to dock since early May, although supply chain issues exist at other East Coast ports.
“We continue to be adaptive and responsive to ensure smooth flow for our customers and cargo owners,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said in a press release.
In addition to these operational changes, there are capital investments, including new ship-to-shore cranes. SC Ports says there are currently 15 such cranes at the Wando Welch terminal. Together, these cranes will allow the terminal to operate three 14,000 TEU vessels simultaneously.
The last crane was recently installed at the water’s edge.
“It is truly remarkable to see the last crane of our new fleet in place on the wharf of Wando Welch Terminal. It is the culmination of years of effort, planning and coordination by our team and project partners,” said Melvin. “Our modern equipment provides smarter operations and more fluidity for the supply chain.”
The cranes are part of a $500 million investment to upgrade the terminal. Other improvements will include new container handling equipment, an upgraded container yard and refrigerated cargo yard, improved traffic patterns and computer systems, a reinforced quay and terminal transshipment facility for mega- retailers, said SC Ports.
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