Virginia Begins to Receive Diverted Cargo; Heavy Volumes Expectedby Hurricane Sandy on 2012-11-02 23:16:47
Norfolk -- The Port of Virginia on Thursday (Nov. 1) began receiving cargo diverted from the Port of New York/New Jersey as a result of the damage caused to that critical Northeast port by Hurricane Sandy.
On Thursday two vessels that normally don’t call Virginia arrived here: one the container ship APL Indonesia discharged more than 1,000 containers at Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) and the other, the car carrier Prestige discharged 1,300 vehicles at Newport News Marine Terminal. In the coming days as many as 3,000 additional containers are expected be off-loaded at APM Terminals in Portsmouth or NIT. Port leaders are preparing for this trend to continue which could result in a significant amount of cargo diverted to Virginia in the short-term.
“We’re expecting additional discharge volumes and we know we’ll be challenged to keep everything flowing, but we can handle that,” said Rodney W. Oliver, interim executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA). “Our primary concern is the people in the Northeast – we have people in this office who are from that area and still have family there. Also, they’re industry people and we have friends at the Port of New York/New Jersey that we’re worried about.
“Much of the cargo we’ll be handling would stay in the New York metro area and serve that population, so the effort will be to get it off the ship and up to the Northeast as efficiently and as quick as possible, because they’re going to need it.”
Port leaders do not have a projection on the amount of cargo that could be diverted to Virginia, but on Tuesday they began crafting plans to address what could be several thousand additional containers per week in the short-term. These plans include closer coordination with the ocean carriers, harbor pilots, tug companies, labor, railroads, motor carriers, US Customs and multiple other important players in the movement of cargo.
“Many of the vessels on East Coast rotations would call Virginia and New York/New Jersey, so I can say with certainty we’ll be seeing additional discharges from those vessels and we’ll see some vessels that don’t normally come here,” said Joseph A. Dorto, chief executive officer and general manager of Virginia International Terminals Inc. (VIT), the VPA’s terminal operating company. “Capacity is not an issue; what we’re focusing on is coordinating all of the parts to keep our normal volumes and any additional volume flowing. We have to do this and keep all our people safe as well; safety is paramount.”
Rail operations are already operating around the clock and VIT has implemented weekend gate hours: Truck gates will be open at APM Terminals in Portsmouth, Norfolk International Terminals and both empty container yards on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Sunday, the gates will be open from 8 a.m. to noon.
Moreover, depending on need, VIT is developing plans to use Portsmouth Marine Terminal as an outlet for ro-ro cargo and it could also be used to store containers if necessary.
“It is important to note that we’re not capitalizing on someone’s misfortune,” Oliver said. “Any diverted cargo is temporary and it is important that New York/New Jersey get back on its feet as soon as it can because of its critical role in US East Coast trade. The Northeast is in our thoughts.”
A complete guide of transportation vendors serving The Port of Virginia can be found at: http://www.vit.org/docsforms.aspx.
The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, reporting to the state Secretary of Transportation. The VPA owns and operates four general cargo facilities on behalf of the state: Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. In addition, the VPA leases and operates APM Terminals in Portsmouth and the Port of Richmond.