East Coast ports are facing higher volumes as shippers try to avoid congestion at West Coast ports. This increase in activity has resulted in increased volume in some ports – and backup processing in others.
Virginia Port’s “Most Productive July Ever”
July was a record month for the Port of Virginia, with the Norfolk facility handling nearly 318,000 twenty-foot units, an 8.4% increase over July 2021.
Last month was the “most productive July in the port’s history,” and it was the fourth consecutive month that volumes exceeded 317,000 units, the Virginia Port Authority said Wednesday.
Of this total, July imports amounted to 149,829 DFE, an increase of 4.8% compared to the same period last year. At the same time, cargo exports amounted to 85,170 TEUs, an increase of 5.1% compared to last year.
Container tonnage increased by 5.7% to 2.2 million TEU, but Bulgarian tonnage fell by 17.5% to 7,402 TEU.
According to Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and CEO of the Virginia Port Authority, the port believes 2022 could potentially be its most profitable calendar year on record, especially if business remains strong in the peak retail months leading up to the holiday season.
“What we are seeing is growing interest from shipping lines and cargo owners who are working to restore some predictability and reliability to their shipping services and supply chains. We have a proven track record of success in what remains a challenging trade environment, and that has resulted in growth at the Port of Virginia,” said Edwards.
He noted that the port had launched 10 new vessels in the last 12 months, five of them in the last five months.
July volumes are up at South Carolina ports after falling in June
Congestion at some East Coast ports has slowed throughput volumes — something 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 (196,225) but down 11.7% from July 2021 ( 244,821 TEU).
SC Ports also handled 119,872 containers at berth in July, up 9.8% from 109,124 containers in June, but down 12.6% from 137,158 containers at berth last July.
To improve flows in the supply chain, SC Ports has extended Sunday exit times for motor carriers, and the extension will last through at least the peak season. SC Ports also said it was giving berths to 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 dwell times.
SC Ports said there have been no ships waiting to dock since early May, even though there are supply chain issues at other East Coast ports.
“We continue to be adaptive and quick to respond to ensure fluidity for our customers and cargo owners,” SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said in a news release.
In addition to these operational changes are capital investments, including new ship-to-shore cranes. SC Ports says it now has 15 such cranes operating at the Wando Welch Terminal. Together, these cranes will allow the terminal to operate simultaneously with three vessels with a capacity of 14,000 TEU.
The last crane was recently installed on the embankment.
“It’s really great to see the last crane of our new fleet move into place at Wando Welch Terminal. This is the culmination of years of effort, planning and coordination by our team and project partners,” said Melvin. “Our state-of-the-art equipment enables smarter operations and greater fluidity for the supply chain.”
The cranes are part of a $500 million investment to modernize the terminal. Other improvements will include new container handling equipment, an upgraded container yard and refrigerated cargo yard, improved traffic patterns and IT systems, enhanced berthing and handling facilities at the terminal for major retailers, SC Ports said.