There are at least two more large, towering cranes on the horizon for the Port of Wilmington.
North Carolina Ports has ordered two New Panamax ship-to-shore cranes with an option to purchase two more from designer Shanghai Zhenjua Heavy Industry Co. of China, officals announced Monday.
“This investment ensures that our best-in-class efficiencies will continue well into the future,” said ports executive director Paul J. Cozza in a news release. “Our high vessel and terminal productivity will be enhanced with this addition, thus keeping vessels on schedule and reducing inventory and logistics costs.”
The new Panamax cranes, which are scheduled to be installed in spring 2018, have a total project cost of about $27.4 million.
Factoring in the new cranes and options, the port will potentially feature a total of 10 container cranes that will operate over a 2,650-foot, new Panamax container berth complex.
“North Carolina Ports’ expansion enables shippers to gain unprecedented access to the U.S. East Coast,” said North Carolina Ports chairman Tom Adams in a news release. “The work underway will allow the Port of Wilmington to accommodate multiple post-Panamax container ships and to increase the speed and efficiency of loading and unloading the vessels.”
The announcement of the additional cranes comes six months after the port completed its expansion project to accommodate larger vessels. That 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. The expansion means ships upwards of 1,150 feet in length, 158 feet in width and 42 feet in depth can call on the port. The move was critical after the Panama Canal expansion was completed in June, allowing larger ships to pass through Panama to and from ports in the Atlantic.
Also last summer a new cold storage facility opened its doors at the port. Port of Wilmington Cold Storage offers 101,000 square feet of cold storage, aimed at the needs of large and small-scale exporters.
Last month, the new Enviva storage domes at the port began loading wood pellets onto ships for export to Europe, where the waste wood product will be used as fuel for large municipal boilers.
Within a few months, new intermodal rail service between the Port of Wilmington and the railroad’s terminal in Charlotte, called the Queen City Express, will start.
In addition, CSX will eventually provide direct access from the port to the Carolina Connector intermodal terminal in Edgecombe County, a facility that is expected to create 1,500 jobs throughout North Carolina.