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JAXPORT: X Marks the Spot for Global Logistics

May 01, 2024
Credit: Ketterman Photography

Located at the crossroads of the nation's rail and highway network, the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) in Jacksonville, Florida, stands as a premier global gateway in the Southeastern United States. With a 47-foot deep harbor, two-way river traffic and efficient vessel operations, JAXPORT offers carriers and shippers seamless connections to 98 million U.S. consumers within a day's truck drive.

Strategic gateway to the Southeast U.S.

The port's proximity to major transportation routes is a key logistics advantage.

“Jacksonville has outstanding logistics infrastructure, including our efficient network of road, rail and port connections,” said JAXPORT CEO Eric Green.

JAXPORT inland markets map
Three major interstates (I-10, I-75, and I-95) provide seamless access between JAXPORT and major markets throughout the United States.

JAXPORT terminals integrate with three U.S. interstates (I-10, I-95 and I-75), providing overland access across the Southeast and into the nation's heartland. More than 100 trucking firms and two intermodal rail facilities service the port, in addition to Class I rail providers CSX and Norfolk Southern, regional line Florida East Coast Railway (FEC), and on-dock and near-dock rail providers, including Watco. This expansive connectivity ensures cargo can be swiftly moved inland to its destination.

On the waterfront, JAXPORT's harbor depth of 47 feet allows large containerships as well as roll-on/roll-off and breakbulk vessels to transit the St. Johns River with ease. The combination of a deep channel, two-way traffic flow in the river and available berth windows equates to minimal delays for ocean carriers. Ships remain on schedule, reducing costly bottlenecks and fees associated with anchorage queues at other ports.

Expanding global reach

JAXPORT's strategic location and operational excellence have positioned it as an ideal hub for expanding global trade routes and partnerships. JAXPORT has added five new container services in the last three years with new direct routes to/from Asia, West Coast South America and the Caribbean, building upon its established global container services.

For example, Ocean Network Express (ONE) launched its new West India North America (WIN) container service in May 2024, directly linking Jacksonville to ports in India and Pakistan. This weekly service, deploying a fleet of nine vessels, is JAXPORT's first direct connection across the Indian Subcontinent and its growing economies.

ONE containership traversing JAXPORT
The West India North America (WIN) container service by Ocean Network Express (ONE) directly links Jacksonville with ports in India and Pakistan. Credit: Mark Bias Photography

Additionally, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has merged two existing services, resulting in JAXPORT's first and only direct container service to the West Coast of South America. The upgraded Ecuador-NWC and Scan Baltic-USA rotation calls Jacksonville weekly, offering new links to major ports in Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica. This widened reach benefits importers and exporters trading in South America and Central America by providing fast transit times and seamless cargo flows.

JAXPORT has also broadened its connections recently with Europe. The array of European services underscores the port's versatility in handling a diversity of freight.

"JAXPORT's connections with Europe signify not only our role as a global maritime hub but also the strength of our partnership with a network of carriers across multiple cargo types," said JAXPORT Chief Commercial Officer Robert Peek.

For containerized trade, the European segment of MSC's Scan Baltic-USA service – supported by Ellerman City Liners – connects Jacksonville with major Northern European ports like Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Felixstowe and Le Havre.

The port's European connections extend to breakbulk and roll-on/roll-off cargo as well. Spliethoff's ECNA service transports both containerized and non-containerized freight between JAXPORT and Finland, served by the port's Talleyrand Marine Terminal.

For vehicles and wheeled machinery, services by Siem Car Carriers and Höegh Autoliners provide regular RoRo sailings between JAXPORT and key European load centers in Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

A total of 16 RoRo ocean carriers provide regular service to/from JAXPORT. Credit: JAXPORT

Underpinning JAXPORT’s importance in the global automotive trade, top RoRo ocean carriers including MOL ACE, NYK, K Line, Grimaldi, GLOVIS, Liberty Global Logistics, Sallaum and others provide regular service to/from JAXPORT.

JAXPORT’s global reach is anchored by trade flowing between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico. JAXPORT is the No. 1 U.S. port for trade with Puerto Rico, moving about 90 percent of the goods that transit between the island and the U.S. mainland.

Green highlighted the importance of this trade, stating, “I am incredibly proud of the partnerships we have with our three Jacksonville-based carriers serving the people of Puerto Rico: TOTE, Crowley and Trailer Bridge. We remain steadfastly committed to ensuring the integrity and resilience of the supply chain linking Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland.”

Investing in growth and sustainability

In response to growing cargo volumes, JAXPORT is engaging public-private partnerships to enhance its infrastructure and operations. The port recently finalized a long-term agreement with Enstructure, a U.S. marine terminal and logistics company, to expand its footprint at the Talleyrand terminal from 35 acres to 115 acres. This significant expansion will include the development of 200,000 square feet of new on-terminal warehousing to support non-containerized cargo operations.

The port's recent agreement with Enstructure will support growth in non-containerized cargo operations. Credit: Ketterman Photography

The agreement builds on Enstructure's established presence in Jacksonville through its subsidiary Seaonus Stevedoring, which has operated at Talleyrand for 27 years. The flexible, multi-purpose terminal will be capable of handling breakbulk, dry bulk, vehicles and containers to meet evolving market demands.

At JAXPORT's Blount Island Marine Terminal, Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET) is constructing its new $120 million, 250,000-square-foot auto processing facility. Planned for completion in 2025, the state-of-the-art facility will incorporate additional rail connections and truck loading areas to improve the efficiency of vehicle import/export operations. To support this growth, JAXPORT is investing more than $50 million to upgrade two RoRo berths, enabling those berths to accommodate three pure car carrier ships simultaneously instead of two.

This project will add to the capabilities supporting the port’s auto processors, including SET as well as longtime port partner AMPORTS. Nearly every global auto manufacturer ships through AMPORTS’ facility at JAXPORT’s Blount Island terminal. Between their state-of-the-art yard management system and skilled team, AMPORTS’ innovation adds to the advantages OEMs enjoy when shipping through JAXPORT.

Ongoing infrastructure investments are a hallmark of JAXPORT's commitment to growth and sustainability.

The $72 million SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal modernization project at Blount Island is more than halfway complete and set to wrap up in 2025. This initiative will increase the terminal's footprint and increase its annual throughput capacity to nearly 500,000 TEUs, a 150 percent improvement over current throughput. Enhancements include 97 acres of newly paved terminal space to accommodate higher container stacks, six outbound truck lanes and improved inbound lanes.

Blount Island
The SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal modernization project at Blount Island will increase the terminal's footprint and increase its annual throughput capacity to nearly 500,000 TEUs. Credit: JAXPORT

Alongside this project, JAXPORT has been working with the local electric authority to raise overhead powerlines crossing the river to increase vessels’ operational height to 205 feet, clearing the way for 18,000 TEU vessels to call Blount Island, up from 14,000 TEU today.

JAXPORT is also partnering with SSA – and port tenant Crowley – on the $47 million JAXPORT EXPRESS sustainability program. Funded partially through a federal grant, EXPRESS will reduce greenhouse gas emissions through measures like the acquisition of zero-emission electric equipment and charging infrastructure.

At the SSA terminal, over $31 million will fund the purchase of hybrid RTGs, electric container handlers and forklifts. Crowley will invest $14.6 million into a fleet of electric specialty tractors and forklifts, expand reefer plug capacity, and transition to more efficient stacked reefer operations.

Upgrades like these solidify JAXPORT's status as a leading U.S. port for cold chain logistics. Indeed, more than one million square feet of combined frozen and refrigerated warehouse space in Jacksonville will open in the next few years, nearly doubling the existing cold storage in Northeast Florida.

Supporting global brands and economic opportunities

JAXPORT's strategic efforts are attracting global brands and driving significant economic impact throughout the region. The area offers 156 million square feet of industrial warehousing space and a highly trained labor force of 881,000 workers, so current operations provide ample capacity to keep shippers’ freight moving efficiently.

Primark distribution center
International fashion retailer Primark recently opened its first Southeastern U.S. distribution center in Jacksonville close to the port. Credit: JAXPORT

International fashion retailer Primark recently opened its first Southeastern U.S. distribution center in Jacksonville – a 550,000 square foot facility in close proximity to JAXPORT's maritime capabilities.

"We welcome Primark to Jacksonville and are thrilled to be a part of the global retailer's expansion in the United States," said Green.

The port's appeal as a gateway for international trade has also attracted U.S. companies like baby products supplier Frida to establish distribution operations in Jacksonville.

Cargo activity through the port currently supports 138,000 jobs and $31 billion in annual economic output for the state. As JAXPORT continues enhancing its infrastructure and services to meet future demand, that economic impact is projected to increase. The port remains committed to providing efficient, reliable and sustainable shipping solutions for its customers and stakeholders as it strengthens its global connections.

Through an ideal strategic location, key partnerships, and continued infrastructure development, JAXPORT has become the exact location where logistics businesses, shippers and carriers can find success.

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