Let’s simply call it a magazine publisher’s reality check.
When news reports of supply chain disruptions and record backups at West Coast ports began to appear last year, I immediately thought, “What’s going on at the Port of Virginia?” When I leave downtown Norfolk, it is almost always via the Midtown Tunnel. Emerging from the tunnel into Portsmouth, the first thing visible on the left is the Pinners Point Container Yard. Perhaps it’s wholly unscientific, but my simple reality check measure was to see whether the containers appeared to be stacked much higher than usual. They were not.
Virginia’s ongoing investments in its ports are paying off big time. As consumers increasingly shift to e-commerce and home delivery, demand for container and intermodal capacity has never been higher. West Coast port congestion and labor problems are well documented and ongoing. The “Virginia Model,” in which the Virginia Port Authority owns and operates terminals and manages a chassis fleet — as well as having shipping channels that are wider, deeper and therefore safer — is working. The commonwealth’s investment and support ensure that Virginia stays competitive, ranking among the top ports of entry and egress for East Coast imports and exports. In terms of trends, Virginia is arguably already at the top in terms of efficiency; more container volume will inevitably follow.
Such trends are the result of investment. Wider and deeper channels come at a significant cost; it is the oceangoing equivalent of taking a well-worn path and converting it to a superhighway. Scheduled for completion in 2024, the dredging project to give the Port of Virginia the East Coast’s deepest harbor will allow the largest modern container ships to make Virginia a fully loaded first port of call from across the Atlantic or the Pacific via the Panama Canal. What’s more, a wider channel will provide the berth needed for the biggest ships to move two ways simultaneously. That’s a huge competitive advantage for the commonwealth.
Virginia’s maritime industry is vibrant and innovative. Offshore wind turbines and the accompanying supply chain necessary to construct and supply them are also developing opportunities. That’s not to say that all these prospects don’t come with obstacles such as labor shortages, trucking shortages and global supply chain disruptions. These factors all present challenges that Virginia’s maritime, logistics, economic development and educational institutions all are working hard to overcome.
Our hope is that the 2022 Virginia Maritime Guide will provide you with a wealth of information on each of these investments, opportunities, challenges and more. To compile this guide, we worked closely with the Virginia Maritime Association and the Port of Virginia. We thank them for their assistance and look forward to the maritime industry’s ongoing success in the commonwealth.
President & Publisher, Virginia Business