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JaxPort gets glimpse of future with big ship visit

source:Cargonewsasia author: time:2009-03-31  

The biggest cargo ship to ever call on Jacksonville arrived earlier in the week and offered a glimpse of what the future could look like if the harbour is deepened for such super-sized ships, the Florida Times-Union reported.

Measuring 983 feet long ?C more than three football fields ?C and 122 feet wide, the MSC Catania was able to enter the port because it was only loaded at 13 percent of capacity.

If it were fully loaded, the weight would have caused the ship to ride too low in the water for it to navigate the 40-foot deep channel, Jacksonville Port Authority officials said.

JaxPort wants to deepen the channel to 47-48 feet and make Jacksonville an everyday destination for those jumbo ships.

They mainly go to West Coast ports, but after the Panama Canal is enlarged by 2014, they will be able to sail from Asia to East Coast ports whose harbours are deep enough.

The estimated cost is US$500 million.

Other East Coast ports are either deepening their harbours or planning to do so, banking on a surge in business from post-Panamax ships.

"After our economic dip ends, I think we're going to be back into a growth mode and that's going to be the name of the game - larger volumes on larger ships," said Raul Alfonso, director of container cargo at JaxPort.

The Catania isn't scheduled to come back anytime soon. The ship delivered a load of pulp paper from Brazil after a smaller ship originally slated to carry the cargo ran aground in the Bahamas.

As post-Panamax ships go, the Catania is on the small side. Post-Panamax ships typically range from 1,200 to 1,400 feet long and about 150 feet wide, port officials said.

The TraPac terminal that opened at Dames Point in January already has post-Panamax cranes capable of reaching far enough across the ships to load and unload containers.

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