Port Tampa Bay marked a major milestone and partnership yesterday with CMA CGM as Port customers, local officials, and business leaders gathered to celebrate the inaugural call of the CMA CGM DALILA at 4 pm yesterday at The Ports America Terminal.

Port Tampa Bay Welcomes its Largest Container Ship Ever
Caption: Port Tampa Bay welcomed its largest container ship ever, the CMA-CGM DALILA early Wednesday morning

CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics, begin their weekly direct ocean carrier service between Asia and Port Tampa Bay yesterday. CMA CGM's excellent transit times will significantly improve the competitiveness of the region's importers and exporters, transforming Tampa Bay's economic landscape. With a capacity of 8,500 to 9,500 TEUs (container units) per vessel, these are also the largest container ships ever to call at the Port.  

The key to Port Tampa Bay's success in attracting this new service resulted from the Port's acquisition of new post-Panamax container gantry cranes in the summer of 2016, which coincided with the expansion of the Panama Canal. As a result, this expansion allows for larger ships to serve ports in the Tampa's Gulf region.

CMA CGM will provide an invaluable new route, linking critical Asian markets to Florida's fastest growing region and largest consumer market: the I-4 corridor. The DALILA's inaugural call will also be the first ever direct connection between the booming Vietnam market and Central Florida.

Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay President/CEO said, "We are delighted to welcome CMA CGM to the Port Tampa Bayfamily. This is a further testament to the growth of the U.S. Gulf market and the significance of the Tampa Bay/I-4 corridor. This area is home to the state's largest concentration of distribution centers and is now the heartbeat of Florida's international trade."

The CMA CGM Group calls 18 ports on all Gulf, East and West Coasts and offers 34 weekly services to connect U.S. commerce worldwide. With a presence in 160 countries and a fleet of 511 vessels, CMA CGM serves over 420 ports. CMA CGM is also a member of the Ocean Alliance.

Port Tampa Bay's position on the eastern Gulf coast complements PEX3 port calls at the western and central Gulf ports of Houston, New Orleans and Mobile. By passing through the Panama Canal, the service has the advantages of the all-water route between Asia and the Gulf. The PEX3 port service rotation includes Singapore, Vung Tau, Hong Kong, Shekou, Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan, Panama Canal transit, Houston, Mobile, New Orleans, Tampa, Miami, and Singapore.

Ludovic Renou, President of CMA CGM America said, "The PEX3 offers an outstanding service to and from Asia, and now shippers and customers in Central Florida will have enhanced access to it. By adding Tampa to the PEX3, we demonstrate an agility that is a hallmark of the customer-centric approach we bring to all aspects of our business."

Home to almost half the state's growing population of nearly 22 million residents, the I-4 corridor has the largest concentration of distribution centers in Florida. The exponential growth of online shopping and e-commerce has also driven the creation of warehouses near urban clusters. Port Tampa Bay's location offers importers and exporters significant savings in their deliveries to the I-4 corridor and the entire state, which is an especially important factor in this era of increased trucking costs. Companies like Amalie Oil and Rooms to Go no longer need to truck their products into Tampa Bay from distant and more congested ports. Additionally, the I-4 corridor has been transformed into a highly competitive region for commercial real estate brokers searching for property to build new distribution centers and manufacturing facilities to serve customers in Florida and the Southeast.

Port Tampa Bay's position on the eastern Gulf coast complements the western and central Gulf ports of Houston and Mobile. The three ports, together with the Panama Canal, have been jointly promoting the advantages of the all-water Asia-Gulf route and the growing markets along the Gulf coast.

Together with container terminal operator partner Ports America, Port Tampa Bay is continuing to expand and upgrade facilities, having recently added two new post-Panamax cranes to complement its existing three gantry cranes and implementing a phased build-out plan to quadruple capacity over the next few years as business continues to grow. The Port is also investing in new facilities to continue to diversify its service offerings and cargo mix, which includes a new state-of-the art on-dock cold storage warehouse recently opened by Port Logistics Refrigerated Services.

"Ports America is proud to partner with the Port in welcoming CMA CGM," said Mark Montgomery, President & CEO of Ports America, container terminal operator at Port Tampa Bay. "Together with Port Tampa Bay, we're moving forward with expansion of the terminal, as well as adding cranes and equipment to continue to accommodate a rapidly expanding market."

Source: Port Tampa Bay