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Port of Wilmington Sets Record for Reefer Cargo

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Port of Wilmington NC (file photo)

By The Maritime Executive 05-14-2020 05:32:44

While many ports around the United States and the world have been struggling with the economic impact of the coronavirus, North Carolina Ports and its Port of Wilmington have been pushing forward with several long-term initiatives. 

As a result of these efforts, the Port of Wilmington set a new record for refrigerated container volume in April 2020. Next week the port will also mark another important achievement when it receives one of the largest container vessels operating on the Atlantic seaboard.

The 10-year old Hyundai Hope, a 13,154 TEU container ship, is scheduled to arrive at the Port of Wilmington in the coming week, making her the largest container ship to call at the North Carolina port. She is making her way from Cartagena, Columbia north along the US East Coast bound for the Port of New York.

The arrival of this large container ship was made possible by Wilmington’s recently completed Turning Basin Expansion Project that widened the turning basin in the Cape Fear River from 1,400 to 1,524 feet. The additional 124 feet will permit the 14,000 TEU vessels to turnaround in the Wilmington Navigational Harbor. 

In April 2020, the Port set a new record for its operations as it moved 1,459 refrigerated containers – 2,918 TEUs through Wilmington.  A new refrigerated container yard had opened at the port earlier in the year. The $14 million project increased the number of on-terminal refrigerated container plugs from 235 to 775 with the ability to expand to more than 1,000 plugs through Phase II of this project. Pork and poultry products are the port’s leading export, while bananas are the largest refrigerated import cargo.

Making each of these records possible, NC Ports has a range of improvement projects underway to enhance the operations of its facilities. Recently, Wilmington also opened 2,600 contiguous feet of new container berth space that will allow for the simultaneous operations of two ULCVs at the port increased while the air draft over the Cape Fear River was increased to 212 feet easing containerships transit of the port. Other recent investments included three neo-Panamax cranes.

“While there is still much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we continue to see growth in both import and export demand through the Port of Wilmington,” said Hans C.E. Bean, North Carolina Ports Chief Commercial Officer, in a press release. “To support this growth, we are making the necessary investments to improve and expand our capabilities which in turn will benefit the North Carolina agriculture industry, the state’s grocery sector and additional cold chain users.”