A new contract, signed last week with Weeks Marine, marks the start of the new dredging of the Port of Virginia to 56 feet. This will enable the port to service vessels up to 18,000 TEUs, making it the deepest port on the East Coast. The port is currently tied with the ports of Baltimore, Miami and NY for the deepest port at 50 feet, but Charleston will enter the lists when they finish their current dredge (scheduled for 2022-2024) to 52 feet.
As vessels continue to grow to massive sizes to carry more and more containers, the Port of Virginia needs to keep improving to remain competitive. It appears to be working as we see, month after month, a record number of containers are serviced even though exports are falling slightly. Imported container shipments continue to rise, leading to more emphasis on sustainable, efficient and cost-effective solutions to moving almost 2 million containers per month. September 2019 saw an increase of 2.6% over September 2018 quantities reaching 1.76 million TEUs in that month period.
This project, at a $75 million cost, is expected to be completed in 2024. Though this dredge doesn’t include the dredging of the Elizabeth river or the necessary widening of the Thimble Shoal Channel so that more than one post-Panamax vessel can pass at a time. Those contracts will be awarded at a later date. The $350 million dollar project is expected to take 4 years to complete. By completion, $195.4 million of the project will be paid by Federal grants and allowances made to keep US ports competitive.
We’ve been watching our port for many years as they expand to fit the growing demand for logistics services and we’re incredibly excited for these new developments. The more cargo we can move, the faster we can service and the bigger the vessel, means a growing local economy, an increase in jobs both at the port and around the area as workers coming in will need services. These are great steps to cementing our community with careers that have growth potential for decades.
If you’re wondering what type of vessel your cargo is traveling on and whether or not it’s included in the post-Panamax vessels of 15,000 TEUs or more, we encourage you to reach out to your Nelson International representative to discuss your logistic plan. We’ll keep reporting on the Port of Virginia and all the ways we benefit from the growth achieved here.