The M/V COSCO Piraeus arrived at Port Tampa Bay after a month-long journey across the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal, Houston and Mobile, Alabama.
A lunchtime celebration at Port Tampa Bay's container terminal featured a Latin band, a water cannon welcoming the Piraeus, and a short ceremony with executives from COSCO, the Panama Canal Authority, Ports America and Port Tampa Bay.
As Ports America crews unloaded cargo from the ship, Port Tampa Bay President/CEO Paul Anderson told the 150 assembled guests, “I want you to take a moment to hear the sounds behind me. That is the sound of jobs coming to our region. That is the sound of economic impact.”
The ship arrived early on Tuesday and immediately began unloading its first shipment of containers. Incoming goods included furniture, e-commerce, construction materials, food & beverages and textiles.
As trucking costs have increased, Port Tampa Bay's location and proximity to the I-4 corridor is recognized as offering the lowest delivery cost solution for exporters and importers.
“The trade has changed and it’s been an incredible change. COSCO is an innovator. The trade is here and I know Port Tampa Bay is going to support us,” said Howard Finkel, Executive Vice President of COSCO Shipping. “We are going to grow this business together.”
Port Tampa Bay's new service with COSCO allows companies like Rooms to Go, W.S. Badcock Furniture and Amalie Oil, exponential advantages to their businesses including faster deliveries to their distribution centers and the enhanced ability to serve China and the rest of Asia.
“Tampa will be covered by both Asia and United States Gulf Services. Introduction of Port Tampa Bay’s new direct service is a positive consequence of the benefits and the new opportunities that the Panama Canal creates to its customers and the ports in the region. We look forward to witnessing
COSCO shipping’s larger vessels deployed in this service in the near future,” said Ilya Espino De Marotta, Executive Vice President of Engineering & Program Management for The Panama Canal Authority.
Together with container terminal operator partner Ports America, Port Tampa Bay is continuing to expand and upgrade facilities. The port invested $24 million in two new post-Panamax cranes to complement its existing three gantry cranes and plan to quadruple capacity over the next few years as business continues to grow.
“All of us at Ports America look forward to building out our 40-year commitment with continued investment, equipment, infrastructure and personnel as it relates to Port Tampa Bay,” Jim Pelliccio, Executive VP Operations, Ports America.
The cargo ship is capable of transporting 4,500 different containers at one time. In Tampa, approximately 500 containers will be loaded and unloaded each week, reaping numerous economic benefits for the region. Imports from China will take 31 days to reach Port Tampa Bay, while exports from the port to China will take 27 days.
Video download link: https://vimeo.com/314122904/069a1de7b0 - Attached is video of the M/V COSCO Piraeus docked at Port Tampa Bay and unloading its cargo on 1/29/19.