Wilmington’s port continues to welcome bigger and bigger ships

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Evergreen Ever Land at the Port of Wilmington. Courtesy of North Carolina Ports.
Evergreen Ever Laden at the Port of Wilmington. Courtesy of North Carolina Ports.

WILMINGTON – The Port of Wilmington is continuing to welcome larger ships as improvements made over the last few months have enabled them to accept post-Panamax size ships.

On Saturday, the largest ship by capacity to come to Wilmington to date made port. The Evergreen Ever Laden, which made its way from Asia through the recently-expanded Panama Canal, arrived with approximately 8,500,  20 feet long shipping containers (also called TEUs).

The previous largest ship to enter the port, the Yang-Ming Unity, arrived in August carrying about 8,200 TEUs. That came just about one month after the port welcomed another large ship, the Hanjin Baltimore.

The 1,099 feet long by 50 feet wide Ever Laden is part of CKYHE Alliance’s AW3 weekly service, which connects Asia and ports on east coast of the United States via the Panama Canal. Wilmington’s port has been able to move the big ships in and and out this summer thanks to recently-completed dredge work that expanded the port’s turning basin from 1,200 feet to 1,400 feet.

“Our recently expanded capabilities and characteristics make us one of the most appealing ports in the U.S. Southeast,” North Carolina Ports Executive Director Paul J. Cozza said in a statement. “We continue to prove we are big ship ready and are excited that container carriers, like Evergreen, recognizes the advantages North Carolina has to offer.”

New intermodal rail service will also help extend the reach of the state port. Soon, containers will be able to be placed directly on a train called the Queen City Express that will take them from Wilmington to CSX’s intermodal terminal Charlotte.

“We haven’t had this service in 30 years,” Cliff Pyron, senior manager of external affairs for North Carolina Ports, said. “This will take trucks off the roads, it will reduce emissions, and it will be a more efficient way to expand our reach to the western part of the state and beyond.”

According to Pyron, the intermodal rail service will begin later this fall, on a date yet to be determined.

This story has been updated to reflect the correct name of the Evergreen Ever Laden.