Month-on-Month Growth Continues with Strong Rebound of Loaded Exports, Imports

Oct 20, 2020 | Corporate Member News

Port Sets New September Volume Record; Fourth Straight Month of Growth

The Port of Virginia® posted its best September performance having processed more than 256,000 TEUS (twenty-foot equivalent units) and surpassing the record set in the same month last year.

September was the fourth consecutive month of month-over-month growth for the port. The amount of cargo moving across the port’s terminals in September was 256,439 TEUs and is an increase of 9,090 TEUs, or nearly 4 percent, when compared with August. The growth was carried by loaded exports and imports, which were 75,526 TEUs and 121,115 TEUs, respectively. In a year-on-year comparison, September’s volume topped last year’s mark by more than 15,000 TEUs.

“The rebound continues and we are seeing indicators that imports could remain strong into 2021 as inventory restocking continues and the retail season gets underway,” said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority. “What is interesting is that September’s record volume was accompanied by the fewest number of vessel calls for the month. The ship owners are beginning to capitalize on their investments in big ships. They’re running fewer vessels, but carrying more cargo. Since 2015, the average number of containers per vessel calling Virginia has increased more than 71 percent to more than 1,200 boxes today versus 700-plus in 2015.

“This is exactly what we planned for when we mapped-out our $800 million capacity expansion at Norfolk International Terminals and Virginia International Gateway. Our investment is showing its value and paying dividends for our customers. We’re handling the volumes in record times at the berth, the gate, and the rail operation.”

As Virginia makes progress in its widening and deepening project, Reinhart anticipates an increasing number of big vessels. On Sept. 15, the port hosted the CMA CGM Brazil, the biggest container vessel to ever call Virginia and the U.S. East Coast.

“By 2024, The Port of Virginia will have a 55-foot-deep harbor, our ocean approaches will be even deeper and the commercial channel will be wide enough to accommodate two CMA CGM Brazils at once, without restrictions on tide,” Reinhart said. “This modern, growing terminal complex combined with the deepest, widest channels on the East Coast position us to provide world-class cargo-handling service for decades to come.

Also in September the port’s growing barge operation set a new monthly volume mark having handled 6,525 containers, which is an increase of more than 30 percent when compared with Sept. 2019. A large part of that growth is attributable to the ongoing success of the thrice-weekly barge service connecting Richmond Marine Terminal (RMT) and the Norfolk Harbor. The RMT barge service moved more than 4,200 containers in September, which is an increase of more than 30 percent over last September.

In the midst of the rebound in cargo, the port is remaining vigilant, Reinhart said.

“We are in close communication with our customers and the cargo owners and keeping a close watch on trade trends and the spread of the virus to ensure that we are ready for any changes that may be coming,” Reinhart said.

September Cargo Snapshot (2020 vs. 2019)

  • Total TEUs – 256,439, up 6.2%
  • Loaded Export TEUs – 75,526, up 5.5%
  • Loaded Import TEUs – 121,115, up 5.6%
  • Total Containers – 140,636, up 4.2%
  • Virginia Inland Port Containers – 3,330, up 13.5%
  • Total Rail Containers – 45,867, up 7.6%
  • Total Truck Containers – 88,244, up 1.1%
  • Total Barge Containers – 6,525, up 30.4%
  • Richmond Marine Terminal Containers – 4,205, up 30.3%


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. A recent economic impact study from The College of William and Mary shows that The Port of Virginia helps to create more than 400,000 jobs and generate $92 billion in total economic impact throughout the Commonwealth on an annual basis.

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