NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Port of Virginia set a new record in January for monthly TEU volume (twenty-foot equivalent unit) having handled nearly 271,000 units.

Officials with the port say January’s TEU volume was nearly 44,000 units – 19.2 percent – ahead of Jan. 2020 and was driven by heavy loaded import and export volume as well as a significant number of empty exports.

John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director emeritus of the Virginia Port Authority says the volume is reflective of the worldwide need for empty containers, a domestic manufacturing sector that is
ramping-up to meet demand, a retail sector that is regaining its strength and growing confidence in
the national economy.

“It’s still a very dynamic trade environment and we are well-positioned to address the challenges as
they arise because of the investments we have made in capacity and modernization,” Reinhart said.

“We’re processing significant volumes and expect the trend to continue. During the last several
months, the port team, our labor partners and the investments we have made in the terminals are
delivering real results for the customers and cargo owners,” he said.

A statement released by the port says that from Sept. 2020 to Jan. 2021, it processed, on average, more than 268,000 TEUs a month, compared with 237,500 units for the same five-month period last fiscal year.

As the volume increases, so does operational efficiency with motor carriers moving on-and-off the terminals in less than 45 minutes, rail dwell for exports is in the 40-hour range, and there steady flow on the barge service moving between Richmond Marine Terminal and the Norfolk Harbor.

Reinhart’s successor, Stephen A. Edwards, began his tenure as the VPA’s next leader in January.

He says volumes through the winter should remain steady and an important factor will be a modified Chinese New Year celebration.

“This year, many of the Chinese factories will be operating during the New Year celebration and this
move will help mitigate some of the traditional slowdown in trade that industry normally experiences in late February,” Edwards said.

“Volumes will also be dependent upon the health of the global economy, the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and the ability of people to return to work. There are very good foundations in place here to handle the changes as they come.”

The project to dredge the Norfolk Harbor, the commercial channels and ocean approaches to 55-plus feet deep is scheduled for completion in late 2024. When the work is complete, Virginia will be home to the deepest harbor on the US East Coast.

January Cargo Snapshot (2021 vs. 2020):
• Total TEUs – 270,969, up 19.2%
• Loaded Export TEUs – 84,699, up 6.8%
• Loaded Import TEUs – 130,777, up 20.1%
• Total Containers – 148,450 up 17.2%
• Virginia Inland Port Containers – 2,782, up 25.2%
• Total Rail Containers – 46,750, up 17.3%
• Total Truck Containers – 95,051, up 16.1%
• Total Barge Containers – 6,649, up 35.9%
• Richmond Marine Terminal Containers – 5,020, up 37.4%