Wilmington, N.C. – As part of its ongoing infrastructure investment plan, North Carolina Ports has completed the expansion project of its turning basin at the Port of Wilmington. The expansion allows the port to accommodate post-Panamax vessels with a length of 1,150 feet (350.52 meters) and a breadth of 158 feet (48.16 meters). On August 7, 2016 the Yang Ming Unity became the largest vessel to utilize the expanded turning basin and call the Port of Wilmington.
“This is an incredible accomplishment for us at North Carolina Ports. We made a promise to our customers that this project would be done on time and we met that goal,” said Executive Director, Paul J. Cozza. “For this expansion to finish in just over six months and give us the capabilities it has is unprecedented in our business.”
The turning basin project included the removal of an existing bulk pier and dredging along the port’s side of the Cape Fear River to expand the turning basin from 1,200 feet to 1,400 feet. This expansion will typically accommodate vessels in the 8,000 to 10,000 TEU range, depending on the vessel’s profile.
The Yang Ming Unity transited the new locks of the recently expanded Panama Canal on its way to the Port of Wilmington. The vessel measures 1,101 feet in length and 140 feet in width. Carrying around 8,200 TEUs, the Unity is the largest vessel to call on North Carolina’s Ports.
“This is a commitment of support to our existing and future customers,” said Chief Commercial Officer, Greg Fennell. “We are making the necessary investments, we are big-ship ready and we will continue to handle these larger vessels deployed to the U.S. Southeast.”
With best-in-class efficiencies, North Carolina Ports is able to handle an influx in container volumes while completely avoiding congestion. With 45 net crane moves per hour in each of its post-Panamax cranes, coupled with average truck turn times of 18 minutes for a single move and 30 minutes for a dual move, the Port of Wilmington’s high vessel and terminal productivity keeps vessels on schedule and reduces inventory and logistics costs.
Recent announcements at the Port of Wilmington reflect ongoing growth at North Carolina Ports. After a banner year in fiscal year 2015, North Carolina Ports saw its best-ever financial year in fiscal 2016. Fiscal year 2017 is off to an impressive start as well with the completion of the turning basin and the recent return of intermodal rail service to the North Carolina Ports. The announcement by CSX of the Queen City Express brings a non-stop, double stacked train with overnight service to CSX’s intermodal terminal in Charlotte.
North Carolina’s Ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, plus inland terminals in Charlotte and in Greensboro, link the state’s consumers, businesses and industry to world markets, and serve as magnets to attract new business and industry to the State of North Carolina. Port activities contribute statewide to 76,000 jobs and $700 million each year in state and local tax revenues.