Norfolk -- Portsmouth Marine Terminal (PMT) is back in business.
This week, The Port of Virginia announced that a portion of PMT will serve as a temporary home – staging area -- for automobiles that will be exported to China. This is the first cargo to transit the marine terminal since it was closed in the winter of 2011.
"The immediate opportunity for PMT and the port is significant," said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. "This is a good first step of providing a 'proof of concept' to bring business back to PMT. There is a lot of opportunity at PMT for the right users and this is one."
On March 30, a Norfolk Southern automotive train arrived at the rail carrier's Carolina Yard in Chesapeake carrying 700 Chrysler SUVs, manufactured near Toledo, Ohio. The vehicles were driven or transported from the rail yard to PMT by car carrier and vehicle convoy.
The Port of Virginia collaborated with Pasha Automotive, Norfolk Southern, Chrysler Group LLC and Siem Car Carriers to create a short-term, six-month, memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Pasha and Virginia International Terminals, LLC. If all goes well, this could be the basis for a longer term agreement, Reinhart said.
Following the first rail delivery in March, two-to-three additional vehicle trains are anticipated. Around April 25, a Siem vessel is scheduled to call PMT and an estimated 2,500 vehicles will be loaded. Labor from the International Longshoremen's Union will be used to drive the export vehicles onto the ship, generating new man hours for the union. This practice mirrors the port's import vehicle operations at Newport News Marine Terminal.
Successful trial shipments could quickly generate additional volumes for Chrysler and other equipment manufacturers experiencing increasing volumes during this MOU period.
"Our goal is to provide a very high level of service and give Pasha Automotive reason to consider a long-term agreement," Reinhart said.
The terms of the MOU are confidential.