North Carolina’s two ports anticipate an increase in vessel arrivals

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore has led to the anticipation of more vessels being welcomed in the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City.

“North Carolina Ports is prepared to offer its assistance and support to the wider supply chain network as customers evaluate their options,” stated Brian Clark, Executive Director of North Carolina Ports.

Six workers tragically lost their lives on the Key Bridge early Tuesday morning when the Dali, a cargo ship flying Singapore colors, lost power and steering, causing it to collide with a bridge support. Fortunately, two workers were rescued from the wreckage. The crew onboard managed to send a distress signal just ninety seconds before the collision, prompting authorities to quickly close off both ends of the bridge to traffic.

No one lost their life on the ship.

The bridge collapsed and dropped into the Patapsco River, prompting the need for a replacement. It serves as a route for I-695 traffic on the southeastern outskirts of Baltimore, catering primarily to around 31,000 vehicles per day, mainly commercial ones like trucks. The costs and timeline for the replacement are currently uncertain, as they depend on factors such as the type of bridge to be constructed, the possibility of expediting permits, the availability of construction firms, and the supply of steel.

Vessel traffic is anticipated to resume much earlier than the reconstruction of the bridge. Norfolk, Va., and the Port of New York/New Jersey are already experiencing a surge in activity.

“We will closely monitor the situation as it develops and apply any lessons learned to ensure the safety of our citizens and businesses in North Carolina,” stated Clark. “It’s important to note that in North Carolina, our ports do not require large cargo vessels to navigate under bridges for access.”

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In Wilmington, there are several useful offerings despite the presence of specific businesses lining the harbor in Baltimore. One notable feature is the 101,000-square-foot on-terminal cold storage facility. Additionally, the area is equipped with three neo-Panamax cranes and four post-Panamax container cranes. These facilities contribute to the efficiency and functionality of Wilmington’s harbor.

Morehead City and Wilmington boast expansive warehousing and open storage areas, with Morehead City situated a mere four miles away from the Atlantic Ocean. These ports collectively facilitate the handling of over 4 million tons of general cargo annually.

Easy access is readily available to major interstates such as Interstate 40, Interstate 95, Interstate 85, Interstate 77, and Interstate 74, as well as U.S. routes 17 and 70. Additionally, there is convenient access to Class I rail service through CSX and Norfolk Southern.

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