Following a $50 million restoration after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, Chiquita has moved back to its original berths on the Port of Gulfport’s west pier.
In August 2005, the storm's surge rendered the west pier useless “because of the level of destruction," port executive director Don Allee told regional television station WLOX. Four years later, repair work on the berths is almost complete.
Since the storm Chiquita has been sharing berth space with Dole. These two container carriers, plus Crowley Maritime’s roll-on, roll-off Gulf-Central America container service and bulk cargo handled for DuPont, have sustained the port’s cargo business since the hurricane. Before, the port also handled frozen poultry, forest products and other breakbulk cargo.
The west pier’s berths one and two are now completely rebuilt and restored. Berth three is still being worked on. The new piers will be able to handle weight loads of 1,000 pounds per square foot. The original berths, built more than five decades ago, could handle half or less of that weight, the news station reported.
In addition to recovering from Katrina by rebuilding storm-damaged sections of the port, Gulfport is also embarking on an ambitious and controversial restoration and expansion plan that would raise the port’s surface to 25 feet above sea level, deepen and slightly change the ship channel, and generally position it to handle large container vessels post-Panama Canal expansion. The state plans to contribute some $570 million to the first stages of the expansion, which will unfold over several decades. There has been controversy over whether this money, originally distributed by the federal government after the storm, should be spent on the port or on low-income housing in the region.
Contact Janet Nodar at email@example.com.