East Coast Ports Get First Ships Via New Panama Canal
The MOL Majesty called at PortMiami last weekend, becoming the first container ship to arrive there through the new Panama Canal locks. PortMiami and the state of Florida have invested $1.3 billion in dredging and infrastructure to prepare for the arrival. “It’s a wow day for Miami,” said PortMiami Director Juan Kuryla, speaking to the Miami Herald. He pointed out that there was a blue ribbon audience in attendance: the Panama Canal's administrator, Carlos Gimenez, the chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission and many others.
On July 12, the port of Jacksonville, Florida (JAXPORT) also welcomed the 6,700 TEU Majesty. But authorities said that in addition to inaugurating the new canal route to the port and the possibilities for larger ships, the vessel also illustrated the need for a new round of dredging. The Majesty draws nearly 47 feet when fully loaded – the same depth that JAXPORT would like to create for the approach channel up the St. Johns River.
“The arrival of the MOL Majesty through the new locks is a reminder that this is a time of great growth potential for JAXPORT and Northeast Florida,” said port CEO Brian Taylor. “We already have the infrastructure, highway and rail connections, labor options and efficiency that the international cargo industry demands, and we are on our way toward a harbor depth that will accommodate ships like the Majesty at capacity, creating jobs and opportunity.”
On July 13, Savannah, Georgia welcomed the 10,000 TEU MOL Benefactor, the first vessel to call at Savannah on a voyage through the new locks and the largest vessel ever to call at the port. She was also the first neopanamax containership to transit the new locks on a commercial voyage.
The Benefactor is deployed on the G6 alliance's NYX service string, which is filled by vessels in the 10,000 TEU range. She became the first container vessel through the new locks to call at any American port on July 8, when she came alongside GCT Bayonne terminal at the Port of NY&NJ.
Savannah has ordered eight neo-panamax cranes to expand its capacity, and is working to dredge its harbors to at least 47 feet.
On Thursday, Charleston, South Carolina welcomed its first container ship to arrive via the new locks, the Hannover Bridge, and the port foresees a business boost from the expansion.
South Carolina Ports Authority "is already benefiting from the upsizing of vessels in response to the expansion, with 16 of the 26 weekly container vessel calls in Charleston now being served by large ships formerly known as post-Panamax,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “The arrival of the first 8,500-class vessel to pass through the newly-expanded Panama Canal locks bound for Charleston is a milestone for our port and maritime industry. We look forward to seeing this larger class of vessels more frequently in our harbor, which offers the depth and capacity required to serve the biggest ships deployed to the Southeast.”
SCPA says that it has a $1.3 billion dredging and capital improvement plan for the next ten years to continue to attract the largest vessels.