The Virginia Port Authority [VPA] has signed a five-year contract with Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines [WWL], a ship line specializing in roll on/roll off cargo that has been calling at The Port of Virginia for more than two decades.

‘Signing our customers to long-term contracts is a part of the strategy to secure the future of this port,’ said Jerry A. Bridges, the VPA’s executive director. ‘These kinds of agreements help build upon the reputation that Virginia is a growing, progressive port with its foundation in customer service and its focus on the future. What is equally important, though, is continuing the relationship with a customer, like Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, that has been calling here for such a long time.’

The contract will carry the VPA-WWL relationship through 2012 and at that point WWL will have the option to sign for five more years. The contract value is estimated at a minimum of $20 million. The primary cargoes will be machine tools from Japan and natural rubber from Indonesia.

Presently, WWL vessels in its Far East Service call at Norfolk International Terminals three times a month. In summer 2008, those vessels will be shifted to Newport News Marine Terminal [NNMT]. The move allows Virginia International Terminals Inc., the VPA’s private terminal operating company, to begin implementing its plan of turning NNMT into a dedicated breakbulk cargo terminal.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics also operates a vehicle processing center at NNMT where it processes vehicles imported from Japan.

‘The VPA has, historically, worked with us to accommodate our needs and we think the transition to Newport News will be a very good fit. I’m pleased that we will be able to maintain our presence at The Port of Virginia,’ said Christopher J. Connor, president of WWL America, which is headquartered in Woodcliff, NJ.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics is an independent provider of global factory-to-dealer transportation for automotive, agricultural and construction equipment industries. The company also specializes in handling complicated project cargo such as rail cars, power generators, mining equipment and yachts. WWL is owned by Wallenius Lines of Sweden and Wilhelmsen of Norway. The company deploys up to 60 vessels that serve 20 trade lanes to five continents.