In these challenging times, when shippers are assertively seeking supply chain diversification, the expanding facilities of the North Carolina State Ports Authority’s Port of Wilmington are offering a highly efficient, congestion-free alternative for moving both temperature-controlled and nonrefrigerated cargos.
“NC Ports has seen tremendous progress over the last year despite the challenges and obstacles of the pandemic and current supply chain issues,” Brian E. Clark, executive director of the North Carolina enterprise agency, told AJOT.
“I am extremely proud of the performance and resolve of the entire team,” added Clark, a former APM Terminals executive who, following 3 1/2 years as the North Carolina authority’s chief commercial officer, assumed the NC Ports helm from Paul J. Cozza in January.
While in the final phase of a $250 million infrastructure enhancement program, NC Ports wrapped up its 2021 fiscal year on June 30 with record results, including handling 324,145 twenty-foot-equivalent units of containerized cargo, up 2 percent over the preceding 12-month period, with refrigerated cargo leading the way with a 9 percent year-over-year gain.
“Our recent successes can be attributed to our employees, who maintain our quality customer service standards and the ambition for NC Ports to continue to deliver on our mission of enhancing the economy of North Carolina,” Clark said.
Among the most recent advances at the Port of Wilmington is the late August inking of an agreement with Sun Valley, Idaho-based Cold Summit Development to build further upon the impressive cold chain logistics facilities at the port, which include the 3-million-cubic-foot Port of Wilmington Cold Storage installation opened in 2016 under a public-private partnership. The Cold Summit firm initially plans a 280,000-square-foot temperature-controlled facility, with a second phase calling for 160,000 square feet of additional warehousing.
Last year, the port opened a new refrigerated container yard while doubling its refrigerated container plug contingent to more than 1,000 units.
Earlier this year, NC Ports reached agreement with Omaha, Nebraska-based grain, feed and food ingredient exporter The Scoular Co. for development of an on-port transload facility for containerized exports of agricultural products.
With 2,600 contiguous feet of container berthing served by seven ship-to-shore gantries, as well as a recently expanded turning basin and heightened Cape Fear River air draft, the Port of Wilmington is able to simultaneously accommodate two megacontainerships and is handling ultralarge vessels each with capacity of more than 14,000 TEUs, such as Yang Ming’s 14,220-TEU-capacity YM Warranty.
On the carrier service front, Sealand this past summer began calling Wilmington with its NAE Service, directly linking the North Carolina seaport with such key Caribbean and Central American ports as Cartagena and Turbo in Colombia; Manzanillo, Panama; and Puerto Moín, Costa Rica.
Wilmington receives weekly calls from THE Alliance’s EC2 service and Zim/2M Alliance’s ZCP/TP10/Amberjack service, both of which come from China and South Korea via the Panama Canal. Trans-Atlantic European service is provided by Independent Container Line.
In August, a new Navis N4 terminal operating system went live at the Port of Wilmington, providing full visibility and tracking for shipments. Meanwhile, a new state-of-industry gate complex bodes to facilitate still greater efficiencies at the port, which already boasts truck turn times of 30 minutes or less for dual moves.
Wilmington is within a day’s drive of such major U.S. Southeast markets as Atlanta, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition, on-dock rail access to Charlotte is provided by the Queen City Express, a CSX shuttle service carrying double-stacked containers. Plans call for extension by yearend of Wilmington’s inland rail access to reach Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus, Ohio, via a CSX rail hub in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
“When you consider the challenges on both [Atlantic and Pacific] coasts, shippers are looking for supply chain diversification,” Clark said. “At NC Ports, we can handle the big ships with speed and fluidity.”