An increase in loaded imports, along with volume growth for empty export boxes, contributed to the Port of Virginia achieving record cargo volumes for its fiscal year 2021, which ran from July 1, 2020, through June 30.

The port handled a record 3.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units in FY 2021, a 16.8% increase from FY 2020. The port complex, located in Norfolk, also handled nearly 1.8 million containers, a 15.6% gain from a year ago.

Loaded import TEUs rose 18.6% to 1.5 million TEUs in FY 21 amid the economic recovery and strong consumer demand. And like other ports seeing ocean carriers wanting to turn around containers more quickly, exports of empty boxes was up by 29.2% to 663,474 TEUs.

Meanwhile, loaded exports rose 8.3% to 1 million TEUs. 

“The colleagues and partners of the Port of Virginia rose to the challenge,” Virginia Port Authority CEO and Executive Director Stephen A. Edwards said. “For much of the fiscal year, we were handling record volumes under COVID-restricted conditions, and we did so safely, swiftly and sustainably. We consistently handled record-breaking volumes at industry-leading performance levels.”

Edwards noted that the port complex is monitoring activity in the second half of this calendar year to ensure the port can process the volumes coming through.

“We expect to see strong volumes as we head deeper into the summer and the beginning of peak season,” Edwards said. “We’re going to keep working on our plan of adding assets and, if necessary, hours to the operation to ensure cargo flow and accommodate the cargo owners.”

The port said its turn times for motor carriers and dwell time for import rail cargo were better than industry standards in FY 21. The number of rail containers handled increased by 16.7% to 581,868, while barge containers rose 16% to 68,526 and truck containers grew 9.3% to 1.1 million.

Ship calls increased by 7%, or 100 more vessels, to 1,538. The port noted that during the year it handled the 16,000-plus-TEU CMA CGM Marco Polo, which was the largest vessel to call the U.S. East Coast.

While FY 21 was a record year, June was a record month. The port handled 281,346 TEUs, a 33.5% increase from June 2020. The number of containers it handled rose 33.5% to 156,857.

June’s loaded import TEUs jumped 45.3% to 138,737 from a year ago, while the month’s exports of empty boxes total 61,369 TEUs, a 46.7% increase year-over-year.

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Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

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