North Carolina Ports continues to expand its role as a global supply chain gateway by announcing that Sealand – A Maersk Company, is adding a weekly Port of Wilmington call to its NAE service. This provides North Carolina importers and exporters with a direct service between Wilmington, N.C. and key Central American and Caribbean ports.
This service expands NC Ports’ connectivity with key Central American and Caribbean ports including Cartagena, Turbo, Manzanillo and Puerto Moin. These Central American gateways cater to significant refrigerated cargo flows, including fresh produce, and represent major relay points for ocean carriers servicing commerce across the region.
“We are excited that Sealand has included Wilmington in its NAE service rotation,” said Brian Clark, Executive Director, NC Ports. “This is a strong indication of our customers’ desire and confidence to expand trade here with this growing market. Our recent expansion projects will certainly be put to good use.”
The first Port of Wilmington call from the NAE service will be the MV HSL Sheffield, arriving June 24 with a service rotation as follows: Cartagena, Turbo, Manzanillo, Puerto Moin, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Savannah and Port Everglades.
This addition to Sealand’s service positions the Port of Wilmington as the first South Atlantic port of call delivering speed to market advantages.
“Further developing our end-to-end logistics and cold-chain solutions in the region has been a priority,” said Tim Child, Chief Operating Officer, Sealand Americas – A Maersk Company. “Adding Wilmington, N.C. to our network offers an additional gateway allowing more flexibility for our customers to serve their customers. This service will offer direct connections from Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, which complements our existing South Atlantic Express service from Central America. We look to further strengthen our partnership with the Port of Wilmington.”
Last year, NC Ports opened its new refrigerated container yard as a strategic component of its capital improvement plan. That project boosted the port’s on-terminal refrigerated container plug capacity from 235 to 775 with the ability to expand to more than 1,200 plugs.
When that new Refrigerated Container Yard was unveiled in April 2020, NC Ports saw a record move of 1,459 refrigerated container moves. This was surpassed in March 2021 with a new record of 1,686 refrigerated container moves. NC Ports saw another strong reefer volume month in April 2021, which is now the second busiest month in the history of the Port of Wilmington, with 1,538 refrigerated containers shipped.
Local exports are leading the way as North Carolina farmers feed the world with sweet potatoes to Europe and pork and poultry to the Far East and Latin America. The key to enabling more cold chain export trade flows from North Carolina is growing complementary import flows that deliver refrigerated container equipment into the market.
“We have seen significant cold chain growth and demand over the past year with our increased capabilities in Wilmington,” said Hans Bean, Chief Commercial Officer, NC Ports. “While the COVID-19 environment has certainly brought new challenges, we have also seen new opportunities across our customers’ supply chains as they look for solutions NC Ports and its partners provide.”
With the forecast of increased reefer volumes through the Port of Wilmington, NC Ports is rapidly advancing Phase 2 of the Refrigerated Container Yard Project with a target date of April 2022 for opening.