Port of Virginia Sets New Annual Volume Record in 2018 Having Handled 2.85 Million TEUs

January 14, 2019

Contact: Joseph D. Harris Spokesman (757) 683-2137 / Office (757) 675-8087/ Cell jharris@portofvirginia.com

Port of Virginia Sets New Annual Volume Record in 2018 Having Handled 2.85 Million TEUs

NORFOLK, VA – The Port of Virginia® set a new annual record for container cargo volume having handled more than 2.85 million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, in calendar year 2018, a slight percent increase over last year’s total.

In 2018, the port’s TEU volumes were up .5 percent over the prior year. The port saw increases in volume at both Virginia Inland Port and Richmond Marine Terminal — the port’s two inland facilities – and truck and barge volume. Further, the port saw slight growth of 1.2 percent in breakbulk cargo handled at Newport News Marine Terminal.

“Our growth in 2018 was less than what we had planned for, but as construction proceeded at Virginia International Gateway (VIG) and Norfolk International Terminals (NIT), we made the decisions to temporarily hold some cargo and limit the movement of empty containers,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “We knew those moves would have a bearing on our year-end totals. Though we still set a new mark, it was a rather static performance. In a larger sense, we made the right moves because we were able to get through a very challenging period while maintaining our service levels.

“We cannot always measure success in terms of cargo volume. It was a landmark year for The Port of Virginia and we look at 2018 as a year of accomplishments. Each month we saw new equipment being delivered, new capacity coming on line, the incorporation of technology and projects like Wider, Deeper, Safer getting thenecessary federal approval to move forward. Equally as important is that we were safe in the execution of our jobs.”

Reinhart also noted that the port is a significant driver of economic investment and jobs throughout the Commonwealth. In 2018, the port was instrumental in helping to generate 3,100 new jobs and the development of 1.9 million square feet of space that had a total investment value of $984 million.

“The accomplishments of 2018 are a real tribute to our team and our port partners,” Reinhart said. “We are still operating in a period of transition and are taking the necessary steps to maintain our service levels with an emphasis on safety. We know we can always improve and will continue to do those things that will make The Port of Virginia sustainable for decades to come.”

The number of ships calling Virginia dropped by 5 percent in 2018 and while there are fewer vessels calling Virginia, they are larger and carry more cargo. The increasing vessel sizes and container volumes, Reinhart said, are factors in the port’s capacity expansion and Wider, Deeper, Safer effort, which is a project that will deepen the Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet and widen portions of the commercial navigation channels.

December is the half-way mark in fiscal year 2019 and thus far TEU volumes are 1,484,403 TEUs, which is an increase of 2 percent when compared with the same period last fiscal year; gate volumes are up 3 percent; loaded imports, up 3.5 percent; and loaded exports, down 5 percent.

The calendar year was completed with December’s TEU volumes of 241,121 TEUs, an increase of 1.5 percent when compared with last December. Also in December, Richmond Marine Terminal volume was up 6.4 percent; motor-carrier volume, up 9 percent; and import loads, up 5.4 percent.

“In 2019 we will continue on our forward trajectory,” Reinhart said. “Our focus now is the expansion of NIT, bringing the new ship-to-shore cranes on line at VIG and wrapping-up construction there in June.”

Some of the ports accomplishments in 2018 include:


  • Construction on the $375 million capacity expansion at NIT begins; the delivery of cargo conveyance equipment begins this summer with first new container stacks will come online in fall of 2018.
  • The port receives its 15th consecutive RiverStar Business Award from the Elizabeth River Project (ERP), a local organization dedicated to restoring and preserving the health of the river and Norfolk Harbor. The port worked with ERP to build 4.5 acres of oyster reef near NIT.


  • Delivery of new cargo conveyance equipment for the VIG expansion begins in earnest: eight low-emission, diesel-electric shuttle trucks; four cantilever rail-mounted gantry cranes; and six rail-mounted gantry cranes (RMGs) arrive throughout the month at VIG as part the expansion.


  • Following more than two years of collaborative development with the local motor carrier community, the port launches its trucker reservation system, or TRS, at NIT. The system allows the port to manage truck flow at the gates; it creates efficiency for terminal operations teams and for drivers; it provides greater visibility to cargo owners; and it is a planning tool for those moving cargo by truck.


  • The effort to make Virginia home to the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast advances as the governor and General Assembly approve a financing package to deepen the Norfolk Harbor and its commercial shipping channels. Gov. Ralph S. Northam and both legislative chambers agreed that investing $350 million to dredge the harbor will advance growth at the port and have benefits throughout the state.
  • The first three of 13 new container stacks being built at VIG go into service. From that point through early fall, new stacks go online about every six weeks.


  • The N4 terminal operating system is successfully launched at VIG and in doing so unifies all Port of Virginia terminals under a single system that allows for greater data flow, sharing, management and analysis.


  • The trucker reservation system, or TRS, is launched at VIG and now the port has the system at its two primary container terminals.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes its study of the Wider, Deeper, Safer effort and approves dredging the commercial shipping channels serving the Norfolk Harbor to 55 feet and widening certain areas along the channel. With this decision, the port begins the project’s preliminary engineering and design work.
  • The last group of RMGs arrives at VIG — 26 new RMGs are the centerpiece(s) of that terminal’s capacity expansion project. The focus now shifts to deliveries of the RMGs to NIT.


  • The heavy-load vessel Happy Buccaneer arrives at NIT with the first group of six RMGs, which are the centerpieces of the $375 million capacity expansion project underway at that terminal. The vessel’s arrival signals the start of an 18-month cycle that will see the delivery of 60 new RMGs to NIT.


  • In his testimony before the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington, D.C., John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, says that the expansion of VIG could be slowed if additional tariffs are imposed on Chinese-made cranes; in 2017 the port ordered four ship-to-shore cranes that are part of the VIG capacity expansion project. The USTR takes the testimony of Reinhart and others under advisement and ultimately decides against any new tariffs.


  • Four new inbound truck gates were placed into service at VIG expanding capacity at the terminal’s gate complex by 30 percent.


  • A new all-time mark for the amount of cargo handled in a month is set. More than 270,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) were processed, besting the previous record set in 2017 by more than 5,000 units.
  • The Wider, Deeper, Safer project to deepen and widen the Norfolk Harbor’s commercial shipping channels is given full federal authorization with approval of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. The project’s inclusion in the bill clears the path for The Port of Virginia to become the deepest and safest port on the U.S East Coast.


  • Heavy construction on the second phase of the rail yard expansion at VIG begins, with the first phase having been completed on time and on budget. As part of VIG’s expansion, the size of the terminal’s on-dock, double-stack rail operation is being doubled to include more than 23,000 feet of new track.


  • The port celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Richmond Express barge service. The thrice-weekly barge service moved 31,500 containers in 2018, its best year on record.
  • The port announces an investment of $26 million for two projects at the Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal. The projects are designed to improve traffic flow and safety on a local road and expand the terminal’s overall cargo handling capabilities. The projects will be paid for using $15.5 million from a U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD (Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development) grant, a $7.7 million grant from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and $3.3 million in port funding.

The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VPA owns and through its private operating subsidiary, Virginia International Terminals, LLC (VIT), operates four general cargo facilities Norfolk International Terminals, Portsmouth Marine Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and the Virginia Inland Port in Warren County. The VPA leases Virginia International Gateway and Richmond Marine Terminal. In fiscal year 2013, The Port of Virginia provided more than 530,000 jobs and generated $88.4 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth.