Port of Virginia Closes One Container Terminal Due to Low Cargo Volume

The Portsmouth Marine Terminal, foreground, will temporarily close in order to consolidate traffic at two other terminals (Port of Virginia file image)

Published Apr 16, 2020 6:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Multiple North American seaports have introduced rolling gate closures at individual terminals, reducing hours and work days in order to match capacity wth drastically reduced cargo volume. The Port of Virginia has announced that it will go one step further by temporarily closing its Portsmouth Marine Terminal, thereby increasing utilization at other sites. 

"In light of market conditions, we find it prudent and necessary to take steps to consolidate our ocean carrier services at [Virginia International Gateway] and [Norfolk International Terminals], and adjust our gate hours," the port authority said in a statement. 

Beginning May 4, Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) will be closed. Three service loops operated by the 2M Alliance will shift from PMT to Virginia International Gateway (VIG) and Norfolk International Terminals (NIT). Their berth windows will be maintained as scheduled at their new assigned locations. The last call at PMT will be the container ship Winner on April 25. 

“We just don’t have the volume to keep it open,” port spokesman Joe Harris told the local Daily Press. “It’s easier to move that volume to other terminals."

At NIT, VIG and three adjacent equipment yards, the truck gate opening hours will be changed from 0600 to 0700 hours. 

Other North American terminal operators have implemented shorter-duration rolling closures to adjust to the new reality of low cargo volume. Port of Miami's POMTOC terminal is closing one to two days per week, citing seasonal effects and the extremely low import volumes caused by blanked sailings. At the Port of Seattle, SSA Marine has instituted Friday-only closures at its Terminal 18 through the month of April. In Baltimore, Ports America Chesapeake has implemented a series of one-day closures and gate hour reductions at Seagirt Marine Terminal.