Our expansion activities at The Port of Virginia aren't limited to the reinvestment and capital improvements underway at Virginia International Gateway (VIG) and Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) to increase capacity. We also work beneath the water to maintain our position as the deepest port of the U.S. East Coast. As the only U.S. East Coast port with Congressional authorization to further deepen our channels to 55 feet, we are 18 months into a three-year study with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revalidate requirements to deepen Norfolk Harbor Channel. Deeper channels will enable us to accommodate larger ships. In doing so, we can attract new business and new investment to the Commonwealth.
"Virginia is blessed with naturally deep offshore waters that provide safe access into our navigation channels and marine terminals. The size of the container ships calling here today are beyond anything I had imagined just a few years ago, and Hampton Roads will be amazed by the ultra large container vessels that will soon be calling,” said Captain J. William Cofer, president of the Virginia Pilot Association. "The Port of Virginia clearly has the future in focus as they partner with the Army Corps of Engineers to deepen and widen the navigation channels to provide safer passage for the ships."
In addition to fostering more business and increasing safety, accommodating larger vessels also offers the ability to move cargo more inexpensively and with fewer emissions, in turn passing savings on to consumers and reducing our impact on the environment. With nearly 1.5 million cargo containers moving in and out of our port's terminals in fiscal year 2016 alone, we're on track to grow those numbers and sustain them through a deeper channel passage.
Our port and the Corps of Engineers will publish the results of the study in the Chief of Engineers Report in 2018.