Virginia is First US East Coast Stop for CMA CGM’s Upgraded Chesapeake Bay Express Vessel Service

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Weekly Service Adds to Port’s Growing Number of Direct Connections to Asia

NORFOLK, VA— The containership CMA CGM Centaurus made its first US East Coast stop today at The Port of Virginia® signaling the beginning of ocean carrier CMA CGM’s Chesapeake Bay Express (CBX) service that directly links the port with several important Asian markets. The vessel is owned by the France-based CMA CGM Group, which is a global player in sea, land, air and logistics solutions.

“This is a long-time customer leveraging our efficiency to its advantage,” said Stephen A. Edwards, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “The cargo owners are going to be the real beneficiaries because a first-in port call allows them to get their cargo quicker and it gives cargo owners more markets – more options – for moving their exports and imports. Given the upgrade in the size of the vessels that are being deployed in the service and our new capabilities at NIT’s South Berth [Norfolk International Terminals], we are ready for any increase in volume.”

With Ed Aldridge, president of CMA CGM and APL North America, and W. Sheppard Miller III, Virginia secretary of transportation looking on, Edwards ceremoniously welcomed the CMA CGM Centaurus to the port. The 11,400-TEU (twenty-foot-equivalent unit) vessel filled with furniture, household goods and consumer products called NIT.

“Our new Chesapeake Bay Express service is yet another symbol of the CMA CGM Group’s commitment to ensuring our customers’ supply chains keep moving and their businesses continue to grow,” Aldridge said. “We are known for our flexible operating methodology and The Port of Virginia’s strategic infrastructure investments give us an even greater ability to optimize operations for our customers. This makes additional services like the Chesapeake Bay Express and the big-ship record we set last year possible. It also reinforces CMA CGM’s decision to keep our US headquarters in Norfolk and to continue investing in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The weekly CBX service employs 10 Panamax vessels. The port call rotation includes Yantian, Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan (Panama Canal transit), Norfolk, Savannah, Charleston, Miami (Panama Canal transit), and then back to Yantian.

The port recently commissioned two new ship-to-shore cranes and 15 new shuttle trucks at NIT South. Bringing this equipment into service, Edwards said, is well-timed as it will help with any volume increase.

“This equipment will help us process the traditional peak-season volumes in addition to overall increases we are seeing as customers, like CMA CGM, rework services to take advantage of our efficiency,” Edwards said. “This equipment gives us the capacity to handle an additional 360,000 TEUs per year. And as we go forward, we are investing $1.4 billion to further increase capacity at NIT’s North Berth and its Central Rail Yard while dredging our channels to at least 55 feet deep, which will make The Port of Virginia the deepest port on the US East Coast.”

The Port of Virginia was the highest performing port in North America in 2021, according to The Container Port Performance Index 2021 (CPPI), which was published in late May. The CPPI ranks the world’s leading container ports based on data collected by World Bank, with contributions from S&P Market Intelligence IHS Markit.

Virginia’s port was 23rd out of the world’s top 370 ports. The rankings are based on total port hours per ship call, defined as the elapsed time between when a ship reaches a port to its departure from the berth having completed its cargo exchange.

Contact: Joseph D. Harris, Spokesman

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