Port of Virginia Gearing Up for Ships Diverting From NY-NJ

Port of Virginia Gearing Up for Ships Diverting From NY-NJ

The Port of Virginia is getting calls by ships that were prevented by Hurricane Sandy from calling the Port of New York-New Jersey and is gearing up to handle substantial additional container volumes from ships that are being diverted south.

The port is already handling one container ship and a car carrier that were diverted from New York-New Jersey. The container ship is the APL Indonesia, which unloaded more than 1,000 containers at Norfolk International Terminals. The car carrier is the Glovis Prestige, which unloaded 1,300 vehicles at the Newport News Marine Terminal.

“We are getting additional volumes that Grand Alliance vessels normally discharge at New York-New Jersey,” said Joe Harris, a spokesman for the Virginia Port Authority. “We anticipate that we could get as many as 3,000 additional containers over the weekend.”

When the Port of Virginia reopened on Tuesday with little damage from Hurricane Sandy’s passage on Monday, it started getting calls from ocean carriers asking about the possibility of diverting vessels to its terminals, so it began planning for how to handle the additional cargo. It expects to get a lot of additional traffic for as long as the terminals in New York Harbor remain closed, which they will be until at least this weekend.

“We don’t know how much it’s going to be, but we anticipate a lot,” Harris said. The VPA is getting ready for the rush through conference calls with carriers and the labor, customs officials, port pilots, trucking lines and railroads that service the port’s terminals. “The ripple effect is huge,” Harris said.

The VPA is considering reactivating the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, which it had closed and was going to lease to a private operator after its containers were shifted to APM terminals. It plans to use PMT for additional roll-on, roll-off cargo vessels that are diverted to the port.

“The Port of New York and New Jersey is a competitor but there’s real concern because a lot of people down here cut their teeth on that market,” Harris said. “We’re worried about what’s going on there.”

Contact Peter T. Leach at pleach@joc.com and follow him at twitter.com/petertleach.