Horizon Lines will add a Jacksonville call to its southbound service between Houston and San Juan, which will continue to operate on a 14-day roundtrip timetable.
The expanded service will employ the Horizon Producer, which now operates on a Houston-San Juan rotation. The vessel has capacity of about 1,300 20-foot-equivalent units.
Company officials said the expanded service will allow Horizon to compete with truck and rail shipments from the Houston area to southeast U.S. points, while providing an additional sailing from San Juan to Jacksonville.
Joe Rodriguez, Horizon’s vice president, sales and marketing, said the “hybrid” service harkens back to the company’s roots in Sea-Land Service, which launched modern containerization in the late 1950s with services between U.S. mainland ports and to and from Puerto Rico.
“Horizon’s new hybrid service provides two important solutions for shippers who are moving cargo between Puerto Rico and our Jacksonville and Houston ports,” he said. “First, we are responding to their request for a midweek sailing solution from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, which hasn’t been available since we discontinued our weekly Tuesday service in January. Second, we are providing shippers with an attractive marine solution for delivering cargo between two major regions of the U.S.”
The revised service adds a Tuesday sailing every other week from Jacksonville to San Juan. The Horizon Producer will continue to depart Houston every other Friday, but now will offer an over-the-weekend marine service to Jacksonville. The company’s weekly Thursday service departing Jacksonville for Puerto Rico remains unchanged.
The first sailing of the new service is scheduled to depart Houston on June 7, arriving in Jacksonville on June 11. There the service will transfer cargo for intermodal shipment to other southeastern destinations such as Miami, Orlando, Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston, and Charlotte. The vessel then will load additional cargo for San Juan and depart on the same Tuesday, arriving in San Juan on Friday.
The ship will return directly to Houston from San Juan, departing on Friday and arriving in Houston on the following Friday. Because the Horizon Producer has been slow-steaming between Houston and San Juan, there was ample slack in the schedule to add the Jacksonville call while maintaining the 14-day round trip.
Although operating the ship at regular speed on the southbound voyage will use more fuel, Horizon said it expects the change to pay off. “We believe the additional cargo and freight will be more than sufficient to make this a positive for Horizon,” Rodriguez said.
“We have received strong interest from shippers of building products, raw materials, resins, agricultural products, foodstuffs and other materials that flow through Houston to distribution centers and manufacturing facilities in the Southeast,” he said.
Horizon has provided service from Houston to San Juan since 2007. The Texas port is the origin for sizeable quantities of overweight and hazardous cargoes that are difficult to move by highway.
Rodriguez said the Houston-Jacksonville service is expected to provide transit times that are faster than railroads can provide and move the cargo over the weekend, when truck availability is scarce, while saving shippers as much as 25 to 30 percent in costs.
“The over-the-weekend transit has the potential to remove numerous cargo containers from the nation’s major highways between Houston and Jacksonville, reducing road wear, traffic congestion, potential accidents, and pollution,” said Richard Rodriguez, vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico.
He said each container moving from Houston to Jacksonville by sea eliminates 900 truck miles one way and 1,800 truck miles on a round-trip basis, which equates to 1½ to three metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions for each container moved.