Why We’re Hooked On These Breakbulk Ports
Archimedes defined the lever and pulley in the year 220 B.C. and used those principles to develop a theory on the center of gravity. With these tools, cranes were built that opened the hatch, so to speak, for breakbulk cargo.
Even at today’s modern ports, amid the robotic stacking of ubiquitous containerized cargo, the breakbulk and project cargo terminals are the manifestation of maritime ingenuity and might. Breakbulk cargo is delivered by truck, train or ship to be stored on the dock or in vast warehouses awaiting transfer. The dimensions of the terminal’s footprint, then, are most important for breakbulk operations and contribute to our opinion of why you should consider these six breakbulk ports.
PORT OF HOUSTON
Houston is the national leader for breakbulk cargo in large part due to the area it has dedicated to loading, off-loading and storing breakbulk cargo—in all 47 different general cargo and heavy lift docks.
Approximately $14 million in recent improvements include a new state-of-the-art wharf and dock designed for handling project and heavy-lift cargo. Care Terminal has more than 1,100 feet of berthing space directly adjacent to 15 acres of paved, open storage area and more than 45,000 square feet of warehouse space.
The Turning Basin Terminal is a multipurpose complex of 37 wharves equipped to handle just about any type of breakbulk, containerized, project or heavy-lift cargoes.
Wharf 32 is specially designed for handling project and heavy-lift cargoes and is a $10.8 million, state-of-the-art, freight-handling facility with 1,000-pound-per-square-foot load capacity. Its 806 linear feet of berthing space and 20 acres of paved marshaling area offer sufficient space for heavy-lift or project cargoes of all types.
PORT OF NEW ORLEANS
Port of New Orleans offers 13,511 feet of berthing space available at six facilities tailored to breakbulk cargo. It has 1.6 million square feet of transit shed area for the temporary storage of breakbulk cargo.
NOLA saw nearly 8.4 million tons of cargo in 2014, the highest annual total since 2000 and a 28 percent hike over 2013 volumes. Imported iron and steel led the surge, totaling 3.5 million tons in 2014—a 102 percent increase over the previous year. Breakbulk cargo rose 52 percent from 2013’s total to reach nearly 3.8 million tons.
Port Director Gary LaGrange said he expects 2015’s cargo figures will climb even higher thanks to a thriving chemical industry and new shippers such as Chiquita Brands International, which returned to New Orleans last October.
PORT OF BALTIMORE
Baltimore is ranked as the top port among all U.S. ports for handling autos and light trucks, farm and construction machinery, imported forest products, imported sugar and imported aluminum. Overall, the port is ranked ninth for the total dollar value of cargo and 13th for cargo tonnage for all U.S. ports.
Baltimore’s Dundalk Marine Terminal covers 570 acres of land and handles breakbulk, forest products, Ro/Ro, autos, project cargo, farm and construction equipment along with containers at six general cargo berths and seven container berths. Its draft is 34 feet at four berths, 42 feet at seven berths and 45 feet at two berths.
Dundalk offers 10 sheds totaling 789,820 square feet, with 20 acres of container storage, 20 acres of breakbulk storage, 300 acres of automobile storage and 100 acres of Ro/Ro storage.
PORT OF MOBILE
The Port of Mobile is the second-largest steel-handling port in the nation with just more than 5 million tons handled in fiscal year 2014. That total will grow with the addition of a new $36 million steel-coil handling facility.
Located on the Alabama State Port Authority’s main docks complex, the new rail-, truck- and barge-served facility was constructed behind the Pier D2 berth on a 40-foot deep channel. Last year, Mobile handled 29.1 million tons of heavy-lift and oversized cargo, coal, lumber, plywood, wood pulp, laminate, flooring, roll and cut paper, iron, steel, frozen poultry, soybeans and chemicals.
PORT TAMPA BAY
In 2014, Port Tampa Bay moved 250,464 tons of general cargo, primarily scrap metal, steel products and vehicles, and 92,379 tons of containerized cargo.
Known as a bulk port with some breakbulk in steel, Port Tampa Bay is now receiving aircraft components for Embraer’s executive jet assembly plant. The cargo was manufactured in Brazil and carried by NYK Ro/Ro from Santos to Tampa and then to a jet assembly plant in Melbourne, Fla., about 144 miles across the state.
PORT OF VIRGINIA
Several roasting companies at the Port of Virginia turn raw, unprocessed coffee imported in bags into a wide range of brews—and the prospects for growth are bright. In September 2016, the port will join the ports of New York and New Jersey, Miami, New Orleans and Houston as a designated domestic delivery point for internationally traded Arabica coffee beans.
J.M. Smucker Co., Keurig Green Mountain, Massimo Zanetti and Mountanos Brothers Coffee Co. have major coffee roasting facilities in Hampton Roads. Having the raw beans closer will improve business logistics and reduce inland transportation costs, port officials say.
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