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Ceres Acquires MOL's Jacksonville Terminal Investing in JAXPORT Growth

JAXPORT container terminal investment
Ceres will acquire the TraPac Terminal in Jacksonville supporting the port's container cargo business (JAXPORT)

Published Feb 15, 2022 6:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

Terminal operator Ceres is expanding its operations at the port of Jacksonville, Florida through the acquisition of the port’s largest single-tenant operated terminal from Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines. The expansion aligns with JAXPORTS’ effort to its container business as part of its strategic plan. Ceres is committing to investments in the terminal as it looks to expand the terminal as an important gate for South Atlantic businesses providing trade between Florida, Asia, and South America.

The JAXPORT Board of Directors approved a new 20-year, $60 million agreement with Ceres Terminals for the lease and modernization of the TraPac Jacksonville container terminal. The 158-acre container facility is located at JAXPORT’s Dames Point Marine Terminal. The agreement includes a $45 million lease with JAXPORT. Ceres will also make $15 million in terminal upgrades, including investments in cargo handling equipment and systems.

In a separate transaction, Ceres announced it has agreed to purchase the terminal’s previous leaseholder, terminal operator TraPac Jacksonville, from Mitsui O.S.K Lines. Terms of the private transaction were not announced, but subject to closing conditions, Ceres will begin operating the terminal on March 1. Ceres has also operated the JAXPORT intermodal yard (ICTF) at Dames Point, adjacent to the TraPac terminal since it opened in 2016.

“We are excited about our long-term commitment to JAXPORT and the local community,” said Craig Mygatt, Ceres Terminals CEO. “Our significant investment in Dames Point Terminal provides an excellent gateway for South Atlantic-based distribution centers, well into the future.”

Located 14 nautical miles from the sea buoy, at the Dames Point Marine Terminal, TraPac Jacksonville features two 1,200-foot berths and six New Panamax container cranes. By acreage, it is JAXPORT’s largest single-tenant operated facility. Along with the existing Asian and South American services, the facility recently accommodated one of Hapag-Lloyd’s European container services, which rerouted to JAXPORT for nine weeks to avoid U.S. port congestion.

“When we put together JAXPORT’s Strategic Master Plan, our focus was growing cargo volumes and the private sector jobs they support,” said Eric Green, CEO of JAXPORT. “This agreement is a major step forward in the evolution of that plan. We thank MOL for their partnership over the years and look forward to growing the economic impact this facility has on our community under its new ownership with Ceres.”

JAXPORT, which is Florida’s largest container port and one of the nation’s top vehicle-handling ports, set expanding the container business as one of its strategic priorities. By 2022, Jacksonville’s harbor will be deepened to 47 feet, with related crane and berth infrastructure in place to accommodate increasingly larger container ships. The harbor deepening project and investments in the port’s facilities and equipment are designed to support the efforts to grow offerings in trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic services, while also building on the port’s leadership role in the Puerto Rican trade.