The Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay today announced the tristate port vessel arrival statistics for 2020. “Given the ongoing situation with the pandemic and the impact to ports around the country, the Delaware River region fared much better than originally anticipated,” said Maritime Exchange President Dennis Rochford.

According to Maritime Exchange records, 2,195 ships arrived at Delaware River port facilities in 2020, a 6.6% decrease in vessel calls over 2019. This compares to declines at our nearest competitors to the south and north of 13.97% and 12.45% respectively. “Given where we were at the mid-year point, down 87 ships compared to the end of the second quarter of 2019, or a loss of nearly 14%, we are pleased with the rebound,” Rochford said.

While the number of ships discharging cargo dropped, ships loading cargo for export increased, in some cases dramatically. Last year saw 41 export steel vessels, a 41.4% gain over 2019. Export gas products continued to hold strong, growing from 185 ships in 2019 to 239 in 2020, a 29.2% increase.

Rochford said it is also important to recognize that as ships get larger, the number of ships calls may decrease while overall cargo volumes rise. “Several port operators in this region have reported gains of 5% or more in 2020 compared to the previous year,” he said.

Both public and private port facilities in the Delaware River region have remained open and fully operational during the COVID pandemic. “This is a testament to the dedication of the labor workforce and the terminal operators in our port,” Rochford said. “They were able to implement processes to keep everyone safe and still handle the thousands of ship calls, getting critical products to market — such as PPE and other medical supplies, fruits and vegetables, and an exploding number of e-commerce purchases — ensuring the continued viability of an increasingly fragile supply chain.”