JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) Chief Commercial Officer Kristen DeMarco recently welcomed the first port call from a ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. (ZIM) vessel. The 10,070-TEU (container) Tianjin vessel made its maiden call to the port’s Blount Island Marine Terminal in mid-October.

The new service to Jacksonville is part of ZIM’s Asia to North America offerings through an agreement with the 2M alliance. The shipping line now offers direct service from Jacksonville to Kingston, Jamaica; Xingang, Qingdao, Shanghai and Ningbo in China; and Busan, South Korea.

During the visit, DeMarco discussed how JAXPORT’s strategic advantages, including the ongoing project to deepen the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 ft., is attracting new business and bigger ships to Jacksonville. “It’s not a matter of waiting for the deepening to be completed, they’re coming now,” DeMarco said. “We are very fortunate that federal, state and city governments are helping to support us and fund the project.”

JAXPORT’s Asian container trade achieved 12 percent growth in the past year, with an average growth of 14 percent annually over the past five years.