As the port’s USD 392 million main channel deepening project approaches completion, the Port of Philadelphia is preparing for the arrival of ever larger containerships.
Namely, a phased approach which will allow vessels to utilize increased arrival and departure draft depth of the channel is expected to start this March.
Several 11,000 TEU vessels started calling the port’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal (PAMT) in December and 12,200 TEU vessels are expected in the coming days, the US Eastern seaboard port said.
On January 14, the 11,000-TEU MSC Avni became the largest cargo vessel to ever call the Port of Philadelphia.
The arrival of the ultra large boxships comes at a time when the port is recording a surging growth in cargo volumes.
In 2017, container cargoes grew by 19 percent, the port’s data shows, with around 540,000 TEUs handled during the year.
The growth is also spurred by the port’s implementation of a USD 300 million capital improvement plan, which will see the first two of a total of four super post-Panamax cranes arrived at PAMT next month.
“We have a lot of exciting developments all occurring at the same time, record cargo growth, preparation for the deepened channel and the arrival of our new cranes,” Jeff Theobald, PhilaPort CEO and Executive Director, said.
In order to be ready to navigate these giants into the port, the Pilots’ Association for the Bay and River Delaware have been awarded funds to train for the new class of vessels 12,000–14,000 TEUs.
To that end, a five-day simulation training program was held at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS), where the pilots were joined by docking pilots and tug operators.
The 103-mile deepening of the Delaware River navigation channel to 45 feet from 40 feet, began in 2010, with the aim of allowing bigger ships to come to Philadelphia through the expanded Panama Canal.