• 77°

Critical cargo initiative at the Port

The Port of Virginia announced in a Wednesday press release that it is beginning to handle its first import containers of COVID-19 test kits and protective gear for frontline medical personnel, and that the port is processing that cargo in rapid fashion through a newly-instituted critical cargo initiative.

“We moved our first import load of test kits on Monday and our operations team worked closely with the ocean carrier and the cargo owner to make sure we moved that container first,” Virginia Port Authority Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director John Reinhart stated in the press release. “Three more containers are set to arrive later this week and we are working with the ocean carriers to identify additional priority cargo.

“This cargo is vital and getting it to the people that need it the most as quickly and efficiently as possible is a priority for the Port of Virginia team. We want to help and we’ll continue to look for more ways to do so.”

The COSCO Philippines vessel arrived at Virginia International Gateway early Monday morning, and the container with the test kits was offloaded just before 9 a.m. Barely two hours later, the truck carrying the container left the terminal and was bound for a pharmaceutical company in Indianapolis, the press release stated.

It was the port’s COVID-19 Critical Cargo Initiative that allowed for the rapid unloading and departure. According to the press release, this initiative identifies critical import cargo moving across Virginia that is needed in the effort to fight the coronavirus, and allocates the equipment and personnel assets needed to get the container moving to its destination as fast as possible.

The cargo includes personal protective equipment for the medical industry like face shields, gowns and gloves. It also includes test kits, hand sanitizer and raw materials going into PPE production.

In this effort, the port is committing to the following:

  • Prioritize COVID-19 critical import shipments at Norfolk International Terminals and Virginia International Gateway
  • Pre-positioning these containers in the stacks to enable urgent pick up
  • Work with designated motor carriers to secure and confirm truck reservations within the port’s TRS system
  • Collaborating with the International Longshoremen’s Association to coordinate plans for any containers requiring urgent discharge from the vessel
  • Any delivery scenarios occurring outside of normal operating hours will be considered on a case-by-case basis and the decision will be made at the discretion of port management, in consultation with the ocean carrier, motor carrier, labor and the receiver of the cargo

The success of the program will require significant collaboration between the ocean carrier, the ILA and the port’s operations team to identify the cargo and its location on the ship well before its arrival, Reinhart stated in the press release.

“Everyone understands the importance of this cargo to those who really need it,” he stated. “More is on the way and as it arrives, it will receive priority treatment and expedited delivery.”