The M/V Lyra, a 466-ft. Lithuanian-flagged reefer ship, docked at the Port of Pensacola July 15, becoming the first vessel to call at the Port’s newly-opened freezer terminal. The vessel is being loaded by freezer terminal operator, Pate Stevedoring and Cold Storage Inc. on behalf of their customer Atlanta-based Intervision Foods. The 3,000 tons of frozen poultry is destined for Africa.

The freezer opening and vessel arrival mark Pensacola’s re-entry into the frozen cargo trades, an industry sector in which the port has not participated in the nearly 4 years. Delayed nearly 10 months due to damage caused by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, the arrival of the first vessel was a particularly welcome site at the port, which is still recovering from nearly $7 million in infrastructure damage caused by the storm.

“This is an exciting day for both the Port of Pensacola and for Pate Cold Storage. Not only does it mark our re-entry into a trade that has historically been very strong for us, but it also is the first tangible sign that we are on the road to recovery after suffering through one of the costliest natural disasters in US history,” said the port’s interim director Leon Walker.

The 22,000 sq. ft. dockside facility is capable of handling cargo through the freezer warehouse and by direct truck-to-vessel load out simultaneously. Additionally, the facility can be expanded to up to 80,000 sq. ft. total incrementally based on demand. While the terminal is not yet certified to handle cargo destined for Russia, a visit by Russian inspectors in expected in late July or early August.