New PNCT cranes
Port Newark Container Terminal expects to put into operation three new cranes, which arrived at its terminal in May, later this summer.
The cranes, which are currently under assembly at the Newark, N.J., terminal, are only the most visible sign of a $500 million project to improve PNCT, with work extending from quay to the terminal’s container stacks to its dedicated intermodal rail container terminal.
“We remain bullish on the long-term prospects for the Port of New York and New Jersey, and our investment on equipment and facility upgrades are a reflection of that sentiment,” said PNCT President Jim Pelliccio.
He said the improvements are necessary because the larger vessels that are expected to call the port when the Panama Canal project is completed, and the Bayonne Bridge in the Port of New York and New Jersey is raised. The biggest ship that enters the Port Newark/ Port Elizabeth complex today can carry 9,200 TEU, but he said ships handling 14,000 TEU are expected after Dec. 2015, when the project to raise the clearance beneath the Bayonne Bridge will be completed.
The new cranes are capable of serving ships with 22 rows of containers and of lifting two 20-foot containers simultaneously. The terminal’s six existing cranes can service ships that have 18 rows of containers. Eventually, the terminal will have 12 super postpanamax cranes with the long, 22-row reach.
The 256-foot cranes were delivered in pieces — “Very carefully,” noted Pelliccio — with pilots timing the ship delivering them to low tide so that the parts could pass safely beneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and Bayonne Bridge. The Bayonne Bridge only has a current air draft of 151 feet. (That distance, measured from the surface of the water to the bottom of the bridge, will grow to 215 feet once the roadbed is raised.) Even when disassembled, there was only 6 feet of clearance as the ships passed beneath the Bayonne Bridge.
Pelliccio says the PNCT improvements are a “natural extension” of port-wide improvements, such as the Bayonne Bridge raising, deepening of the port’s channels to 50 feet, and rail, environmental and security initiatives. He said the improvements will allow the terminal to increase the number of container ifts it can do at the quay to 1 million or about 1.7 million TEU. Today, the terminal is doing a little more than 600,000 lifts; eventually, its capacity will be increased to 1.4 million lifts.
At the same time, capacity within the PNCT container stacks, where the company uses straddle carriers to move containers, is being increased to 850,000 lifts, and PNCT’s dedicated Expressrail terminal is being improved to match that increase in capacity. Pelliccio said three rubber-tire gantry cranes are now operating at the rail terminal, and the 5,000 feet of rail will be doubled in size. The footprint of the terminal is being expanded as adjacent properties are added and warehouses removed. The terminal has grown to 259 acres from 225 acres in 2010; eventually, it will span 300 acres. And an off-dock facility for empty containers and chassis will be moved to a location directly across the street from the terminal instead of a mile away.
Pelliccio said the terminal is preparing for the larger quantities of cargo that ships are expected to discharge and load each time they call at the port. The entire port suffered from congestion last summer due to a shortage of longshoremen, large numbers of workers taking vacations, and difficulties getting a computer system to work at the nearby Maher Terminal, one of PNCT’s competitors. This summer, hundreds of workers that intended to retire in April have agreed to stay on through October, vacations have been limited, and large number of new longshoremen have been hired.
A need for more chassis has also been addressed by using overtime to repair equipment and the addition of chassis by equipment providers. Additional locations where chassis can be picked-up, returned and repaired have opened.
While the majority of cargo moving in and out of the Port of New York moves by truck, Pelliccio said in excess of 22 percent of the port’s volume moves by rail, “and that is a clear focus for us.
“Our rail operation really is a differentiator for us," he continued, "particularly as we focus on our capability for discretionary cargo” — cargo that moves beyond the immediate New York hinterland to areas such as the Midwest, where New York/New Jersey terminals are not just competing against each other, but with terminals in other ports.
Pelliccio said after two years of flat to moderate increases in volume, with business impacted by portwide congestion last summer and a difficult winter, volumes at the end of the first quarter and throughout the second quarter have been strong. He expected a continuation of that trend for the remainder of 2014.
PNCT is a joint venture of Ports America and Terminal Investment Ltd., a company that is closely affiliated with MSC, which is a primary customer, as are China Shipping and United Arab Shipping.
“We are seeing good growth,” said Pelliccio. “We know that what we are doing here is about the future. We believe in that.”