Two new services to the Port of Wilmington were activated last week, marking the beginning of a surge of port service activity expected this year.
THE Alliance EC2 Service, a transpacific service connecting the United States east coast and Asia, activated services Friday. THE Alliance includes several carrier companies, NYK Group, “K” Line, MOL, Yang Ming and Hapag-Lloyd.
The Helsinki Bridge, a nearly 1,100-foot vessel part of the “K” Line fleet, was the first of THE Alliance vessels to call the port within the new EC2 service rotation. At 8,500 TEUs, the vessel is one of the largest to berth at the Wilmington port.
The rotation service connects the East Coast – via the Panama Canal – with ports at Busan in South Korea and Shanghai, Ningbo and Qingdao in China.
THE Alliance EC2 Service
is the second transpacific service to call the Port of Wilmington, giving additional options for North Carolina’s importers and exporters, said Cliff Pyron, spokesman for N.C. Ports. The services will call the Port of Wilmington every week.
“Those are the biggest ships that will consistently call North Carolina ports,” Pyron said. “This [service] compliments the transpacific services we currently have here.”
Service rotations with THE Alliance includes imports such as general merchandise and exports of agricultural products such as wood, he said.
In addition to the EC2 Service, the 2M Alliance TA2/NEUATL2
container service also activated services at the port last week, with the first vessel to call the Port of Wilmington last Wednesday.
The TA2 Service is a transatlantic container service connecting with ports throughout continental Europe, including La Havre in France, Antwer in Belgium, Felixstowe in England, and Bremerhaven in Germany.
It’s an additional partnership with Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Maersk Line, which make up the 2M Alliance.
The 2M Alliance TP10/Amberjack Service, another transpacific container service connecting with ports throughout the Far East and Northeast Asia, began in the fall of 2016.
“It’s great to see the shipping industry leaders through North Carolina ports,” Pyron said of the two companies within the 2M Alliance.
Two additional container services are scheduled to activate in June.
The ZIM Integrated Sipping Ltd. is adding Wilmington to its Z7S all-water service rotation. The container services connects the United States with Southeast Asia and India subcontinent via the Suez Canal.
The container service is the first to call the port that utilizes the Suez Canal.
Its rotation gives direct access to Yantian and DaChan Bay in China, Cai Mep in Vietnam, Port Kelang in Malaysia and Colombo in Sri Lanka. ZIM's Z7S string will feature 11 vessels averaging 5,000 TEUs in size. Officials have said the container service will provide unprecedented access to major markets in those areas.
The service rotations support the legacy apparel, furniture and hardware industry. The rotations will also attract more agricultural exports, such as pork and poultry, through the Port of Wilmington Cold Storage facility, according to port officials.
Another service set to activate in June is also expected to attract more agricultural exports through the Cold Storage Facility. StreamLines’ Blue Stream service
, known for its refrigerated container operations, is set to activate service, bringing imports from Latin America and exports to Europe.
After the activation of ZIM's Z7S and StreamLines' Blue Stream services in June, the Port of Wilmington will have a total of 8 services calling the port, and with it, creating the most global access though its container services in the port history.
The port has almost tripled the amount of container services since last fall. When Hanjin -- previously the world’s seventh largest shipping company -- went bankrupt last fall, the Port of Wilmington was down to just three direct services, Pyron said.
“It’s all about reclaiming North Carolinas market and bringing additional options to importers and exporters ... because we are the natural gateway for North Carolina’s major markets such as Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh,” he said.
The completion of a turning basin expansion project in July has expanded the port’s ability to service larger vessels, in a range between 8,000 to 10,000 TEUs, Pyron said. Officials attribute to that expansion, berth improvements, new cranes and other operational efficiencies associated with the port to the new service additions.
With current port activity at about 300,000 TEUs annually, the new services coming online are projected to increase that figure to above 500,000 TEUs by the end of the 2018 fiscal year, Pyron said.
“We’re providing more global access through North Carolina’s ports,” Pyron said. "The more cargo running through us, the more jobs we will provide, and the more economic contribution the ports will have to the state.”