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Port breaks annual cargo record

The Port of Virginia recently announced that 2017 was another record-breaking year.

The port handled more than 2.84 million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, of cargo, which was a 7-percent increase compared to the previous year, according to a Wednesday press release.

It’s also a new annual record for container cargo volume at the port.

“In 2017, we moved 185,000 more TEUs than we did in 2016, which until now, was our highest volume year on record,” John F. Reinhart, chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, stated in the press release. “For calendar 2017, we had a perfect streak, with every month setting a new month-record, bringing us to a new annual record, and did this while undertaking the largest infrastructure project in the port’s history.”

The number of ships calling on the port dropped by 9 percent in 2017, but the ships have been getting bigger in size with increasingly larger cargo loads, per the release. This trend has driven terminal expansion projects and efforts to dredge the Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet, while widening its commercial navigation channels.

“The growth is significant — 15,442 TEUs a month, on average — and we have responded with improved throughput and safety in all facets of the operation,” Reinhart stated. “With this level of growth, we are truly solidifying our position as the Mid-Atlantic’s global gateway.”

At the December halfway mark for fiscal year 2018, TEU volumes are 1,456,234 TEUs, representing a 5.7-percent increase compared with the same period in the last fiscal year, release stated. Gate volumes rose 9 percent, and loaded imports and exports rose 8.4 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively.

The Port was the first stop for the COSCO Development in May, the largest container ship — 13,000 TEUs —ever to call on the East Coast at the time. That record was broken once again in August when the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt made its first East Coast stop at the port with 14,400 TEUs.

“The accomplishments of 2017 are a real tribute to our team and our port partners,” Reinhart stated. “As our expansion unfolds, we are operating in a period of transition. We are aware of the risks and are undertaking the necessary planning to maintain our service levels with an emphasis on safety.

“We know we can always improve and continue to do those things that make us a sustainable business and grow The Port of Virginia.”