JAXPORT Does Some Heavy Lifting
The Port of Jacksonville (JAXPORT) has seen a pair of major developments that highlight its position as a niche port for specialty heavy-lift and roll-on/roll-of cargoes.
Highly trained master riggers at the port recently moved the first shipment of the U.S. Navy’s next generation SAFE Mk VI patrol boats through the heavy-lift and specialty-cargo berth at JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal, one of the nation’s highest-weight-bearing capacity docks.
The patrol boats, each measuring 85 feet in length and weighing in at 70 tons, were carried to the port from the U.S. West Coast by ship via the Panama Canal. Utilizing a dockside gantry crane, terminal stevedore Portus lifted the patrol boats individually from the ship before lowering each one onto the St. Johns River. The boats were then sailed to Naval Station Mayport, Florida, before being sent to Virginia.
The Mk VI patrol craft were designed by Bremerton, Washington-based SAFE Boats International, LLC for naval special operations and equipped with twin diesel engines, water jets and other features “to reduce total operating cost, minimize manpower and improve reliability and maintainability.”
Just a few weeks ago, Jacksonville signed a contract with Volkswagen Group of America that has the automaker moving 100,000 new Volkswagens, Audis and Bentleys through the port in the first year of the agreement and an estimated 550,000 over the next five years. Volkswagen’s new distribution center is slated to come online in the spring and process imported vehicles for distribution throughout the U.S. Southeast.
JAXPORT is already one of the busiest vehicle-cargo ports in the U.S. Last year, its current auto processors—AMPORTS, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics and Southeast Toyota—combined to handle more than 609,150 vehicles. The port’s auto-import processing facilities encompass more than 250 acres of open storage and 300,000 square feet of covered operations.
Volkswagen reportedly invited Jacksonville to bid on its business last year, putting the port in direct competition against several other auto import centers including the U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports of Baltimore, Brunswick, Georgia, Houston and Port Manatee, Florida.