THE Alliance has announced it will service the Port of Wilmington beginning May of 2017. Hanjin serviced this port but since their bankruptcy the port has not seen much trans-Pacific traffic. THE Alliance consists of the ocean carriers NYK Line, K Line, MOL, Yang Ming Line, and Hapag-Lloyd. The service calling the Port of Wilmington will be named EC2 and will have direct options from Busan Korea as well as the Chinese ports of Qingdao, Ningbo and Shanghai.
This service targets North Carolina’s pork and poultry market. North Carolina is ranked second nationally in pork production and using the Port of Wilmington for exports will be more convenient than ports in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.
Container shipping through the Port of Wilmington fell 11.3 percent in 2016. Of total East Coast volume, Wilmington made up 1.35 percent in 2016, down from 1.55 percent the year prior. The confirmation that this port will be serviced by THE Alliance allows for more options for shippers and will alleviate congestion at surrounding ports.
The Port of Wilmington is investing $120 million into its infrastructure in the next few years. The improvements include new cranes, berth improvements, and the expansion of the container yard. The port has also regained intermodal services through CSX Transportation which links the port to a hub outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. The port has also completed expanding the turning basin to accommodate larger ships.
Wilmington’s development team is also working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the possibility of dredging the harbor to 47 feet. This is the same project that has been approved for the Port of Savannah. It is uncertain if the project will be approved since Savannah has significantly more volume than the Port of Wilmington, but it is clear Wilmington is making the proper strides to become a very relevant port on the East Coast.