Port up in the first quarter

Published 9:14 pm Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Port of Virginia is moving at a faster pace to start a new fiscal year, the port announced on Tuesday.

According to the press release, the port’s twenty-foot equivalent unit volume for the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 is nearly 3-percent greater than the same time last year, equating to an increase of 20,000 TEUs.

The increase comes despite a 7-percent dip in September cargo volumes due to Hurricane Florence, which disrupted shipping throughout the southeastern United States. The port was closed to vessel traffic for more than three days as the storm approached the East Coast, according to the press release.

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“We lost 10 percent of our workdays in September as a result of the storm, and that is a significant amount of time for our vessel traffic to be idled,” John F. Reinhart, chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, stated in the press release. “The closure was necessary to ensure the safety of our colleagues, facilities, cargo and customers.

“We were fortunate, especially when compared with our neighbors in North Carolina. During these events, our posture will always be to err on the side of caution.”

Loaded exports are up by 2 percent, and imports are up by 4 percent on a fiscal year basis. Volume at Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal is 16 percent ahead of last fiscal year’s first quarter. Cargo moving on the Richmond Express barge is up nearly 58 percent, and both rail and truck volumes were up as well, comparatively.

Reinhart also stated that the investment being made at the Virginia International Gateway is beginning to show its value.

“The new capacity that is in service is beginning to make a difference,” Reinhart stated. “We are now moving some volume out of Portsmouth Marine Terminal back to Virginia International Gateway and gaining efficiency. We also brought four new gates into service at Virginia International Gateway in September and along with our Truck Reservation System, they are helping to drive throughput of cargo and build velocity.”

The expansion will also continue at Norfolk International Terminals, where the first of three new stacks were delivered to the operations team for testing in late September. Those stacks are scheduled to go into service in October, and the next three stacks should be online in November.