The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) set a port record Monday with the arrival of the 11,000-TEU Cape Sounio, the largest containership to ever call the port.
The vessel, operated by ZIM on a service offered by the 2M alliance, transited the Panama Canal from Asia before reaching the U.S. East Coast and loading and offloading cargo at the Blount Island Marine Terminal.
The ship’s arrival came two weeks after JAXPORT and terminal operator SSA Atlantic signed a 25-year lease agreement to make a combined $237.8 million investment on an international container terminal at Blount Island. SSA will contribute $129.7 million for facilities and cranes, including $28 million toward the cost of the Jacksonville Harbor Deepening Project.
The deepening project, which is set to be finished in 2023, will deepen the federal river channel from 40 feet to 47 feet. JAXPORT also is investing $109 million in berth rehabilitation and upgrades, which will allow the terminal to simultaneously accommodate two post-Panamax ships.
Hours before the Cape Sounio’s arrival, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. John Rutherford, both Republicans representing Florida, visited JAXPORT and discussed the deepening project, according to News4Jax.
“The big thing right now is we got to finish the dredge,” Scott said. “When the port can take the larger ships, we’re going to get more jobs.”