As the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach grappled with shipping delays and unprecedented congestion, 2021 proved to be a particularly successful year for the ports on the East and Gulf coasts of the United States.
Due to redirected loads from the continued congestion on the West Coast, the performance of the East and Gulf ports soared past projections. December 2021 was the highest volume month in history for these ports.
Let’s discuss why the East and Gulf ports were so successful in 2021.
Hailed as the most productive year at the Port of Virginia, 2021 saw the port handling more than 3.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) – an increase of 25% from 2020.
The pandemic has presented many challenges to the logistics and shipping industries across the board, but the Port of Virginia worked efficiently to take on the record amount of cargo in 2021.
Volume gains were seen across several shipping categories:
- Loaded export TEUs rose 11.6% to over 1.5 million
- Loaded imports TEUs increased by 27.5% to 1.68 million
- Total shipping containers rose 25.9% to over 1.96 million TEUs
December 2021 was the most productive month in history for the Port of Virginia.
In December, the Port of Virginia processed more than 325,000 TEUs, a 25% gain as compared to 2020. Because the Port owns and operates the terminals and the Hampton Road Chassis Pool, where cargo containers are transported between land and sea, this allows the Port to make quick decisions and run more efficiently.
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South Carolina Ports
Ports in South Carolina also processed an unprecedented number of shipping containers in 2021, with the Port of Charleston processing more than 2.75 million TEUs. This volume is an increase of 19% from 2020 and a 13% increase from 2019.
South Carolina Ports achieved the best calendar year in history in 2021.
Like other Eastern ports, December volumes set a record with South Carolina Ports handling 246,198 TEUs at three Charleston terminals—a 17% gain in volume from the previous December.
2021 was a tremendous year for South Carolina Ports and the strength of their ports and the quality of their workforce cannot be discounted.
In 2021, South Carolina Ports handled:
- 1.53 million pier containers, an increase of 18% from 2020. (Pier containers are containers that fall into any size range.)
- Imports rose 25% to 1.29 million TEUs
- Loaded exports increase of 5% to 814,964 TEUs
South Carolina Ports will continue to provide capacity for large retailers as they invest more than $2 billion into port infrastructure. These ports will offer much-needed fluidity in the supply chain.
Port of Mobile, Alabama
The Port of Mobile also handled record shipping container volumes in 2021. According to the Alabama Port Authority, containerized cargo volumes in the Port increased by almost 19% to a record-breaking 502,623 TEUs in 2021.
The Port of Alabama also saw:
- Volumes of 23,776 TEUs, 139% higher than their 2020 volume
- Refrigerated containers rose 50% with 790 more containers in 2021
This increase in volume has been attributed to favorable operational conditions at the Port, minimal congestion, and no vessel delays at anchor.
In Alabama, the posted vessel-to-rail turnaround times were within 24 hours throughout 2021.
Since 2015, the Port of Mobile’s volume has grown by 120%. Since the terminal began operations in 2008, the port has handled over 3.6 million shipping containers.
The Port of Mobile will continue to attract new customers that crave terminal efficiency and enhanced inland connectivity to key U.S. markets.
Florida was open for business as ports on the West Coast dealt with continued congestion and shipping delays. Statistics from Florida ports in 2021 show remarkable growth over the previous year just like other East Coast and Gulf Ports.
For 2021, Port Everglades shows that they processed 973,678 TEUs, up from the previous year’s record of 848,304.
Miami also saw sustained growth. Port Miami had its busiest year in history, reaching a record of 1,254,064 TEUs, an increase of 17.6%. Most importantly, this increase in volume did not create any vessel congestion or delays at Port Miami.
The Port of Jacksonville is also seeing an increase in container traffic from neighboring ports. In early January of 2022, the port saw some business from a large shipping line that diverted some of its load to Jacksonville so the ship wouldn’t have to wait to unload its cargo. A German shipping line that usually makes port in Savannah also stopped in Jacksonville.
Another notable port to discuss is Port Tampa, which also experienced a surge in shipping container services in 2020 and 2021.
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