PhilaPort cargo volumes rise as expansion nears completion

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The Port of Philadelphia (PhilaPort) has seen cargo volumes jump 19 percent in advance of the completion of a $392 million project to deepen the port’s primary channel.

   The Port of Philadelphia (PhilaPort) has seen cargo volume growth accelerate in advance of the completion of a $392 million project to deepen the port’s primary channel and the implementation of a $300 million capital improvement project, according to a statement from the port.
   Container volumes at PhilaPort grew 19 percent year-over-year in 2017, the fastest rate of any U.S. East Coast port, according to port data.
   The Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project, which will bring the waterway’s depth from 40’ to 45’, allowing larger ships to call at PhilaPort terminals, is expected to be fully complete by the beginning of March.
   The port’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal (PAMT) in February will receive the first two of four super post-Panamax cranes currently on order to further support the growth in container cargo, which has been spurred in part by the deployment of larger containerships. Ocean carriers have been using so-called ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) with 11,000 TEUs of capacity to call the port in recent months and the port said it expects them to deploy 12,200-TEU ships in the near future.
   As a result, the PhilaPort board of directors recently approved funding for the Pilots’ Association for the Bay and River Delaware to train for the handling of 12,000-14,000-TEU class vessels.
   The pilot’s association conducted a joint five-day simulation training program with tug operators at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS), developing and validating “best practices” for ULCV transit, berthing and un-berthing plans; establishing initial operational environmental limits for wind, current, sea state and visibility; identifying appropriate tug packages; and developing responses to unusual situations, such as loss of tugs, ship steering or propulsion, or severe weather.
   “The experience that our pilots received during the five-day session was extremely valuable,” said Jonathan Kemmerley, president of the Pilots’ Association for the Bay and River Delaware. “We always knew we could bring these vessels up the newly deepened channel but practicing in real life conditions give us a greater comfort level.”
   “We have a lot of exciting developments all occurring at the same time, record cargo growth, preparation for the deepened channel and the arrival of our new cranes,” said PhilaPort CEO and Executive Director Jeff Theobald. “It’s all very good news and we want to make sure we support the surge in cargo with proper training and landside and infrastructure improvements.”
   “Our investment in this vital infrastructure asset continues to yield significant economic returns across the commonwealth,” added Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. “The near completion of the channel deepening project combined with record-breaking activity at PhilaPort means more jobs and an economic advantage allowing Pennsylvania to compete globally.”


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