N.C. Ports Adds New Service, Advances Refrigerated Container Yard Expansion

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted May 12, 2021
N.C. Ports is slated to expand its refrigerated container yard at the Port of Wilmington. (File photo)
As the Port of Wilmington opens up to another shipping service that's adding to its cold chain businesses, N.C. Ports is moving forward with a project to expand its refrigerated container yard.

N.C. Ports is working to start on phase 2 of the refrigerated container yard project, port officials announced in a news release Wednesday. Port officials anticipate the opening of the expanded yard in April 2022.

N.C. Ports opened its new refrigerated container yard last year, expanding the Port of Wilmington's on-terminal refrigerated container plugs from 235 to 775.

The expansion would be up to roughly 1,200 plugs, said Amy Passaretti, spokeswoman for N.C. Ports.

"We are currently in the middle of engineering design work now, which we would expect to be complete over the next several months," Passaretti said in the email. "We would be looking at starting construction toward the end of this year."

Port officials attributed its progressing of the expansion project to the growth they are seeing in the refrigerated cargo business.

The Port of Wilmington will soon become more connected in the cold chain market with the addition of a new service that will add shipments between Wilmington and ports in Central America and the Caribbean.

Sealand – A Maersk Company, will run a weekly stop of a new service to the Port of Wilmington, officials said in the release. The first ship to run this new service to the port is anticipated to arrive on June 24, officials said.

“This is a strong indication of our customers’ desire and confidence to expand trade here with this growing market. Our recent expansion projects will certainly be put to good use," said Brian Clark, executive director of N.C. Ports, in the release.

The added service will provide importers and exporters in the state with a route between Wilmington and key ports in Central America and the Caribbean, including Cartagena, Colombia; Turbo, Colombia; Manzanillo, Mexico and Puerto Moin, in Costa Rica, officials said in the release.

The markets expand gateways that serve the port's refrigerated cargo business, including those in fresh produce.

The Port of Wilmington recently had a record in its refrigerated container moves, as well as its overall container moves at the port. April was the ports' second biggest month in refrigerated cargo moves.

​Some of the leading exports for North Carolina farmers are sweet potatoes, which go to Europe, and pork and poultry, which are shipped to the far East and Latin America, officials said.

“We have seen significant cold chain growth and demand over the past year with our increased capabilities in Wilmington,” said Hans Bean, CCO of NC Ports, in the release. “While the COVID-19 environment has certainly brought new challenges, we have also seen new opportunities across our customers’ supply chains as they look for solutions NC Ports and its partners provide.”

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