The Alabama State Port Authority and APM Terminals boards of directors in separate actions have approved a $49.5 million expansion of the container facility at the Port of Mobile.

In a news release, the Port Authority and APM Terminals announced they jointly will deliver a Phase 3 expansion that includes a dock extension and an additional 20 acres of improved yard to maintain excess capacity to accommodate new business opportunities. 

When completed, the project will accommodate an annual throughput capacity of 650,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). TEU is a standard shipping container measurement length used by the shipping industry to measure container capacity..

“The Phase 3 expansion enables us to stay well ahead of the growth pattern we’ve seen in the Port of Mobile, as well as add dock space to support the growing vessel sizes that are coming to the terminal. It will help us maintain the efficiency levels our customers have come to expect, while also creating the extra capacity needed to support potential future economic growth in our market,” Brian Harold, managing director for APM Terminals Mobile, said. 

Phase 3 is part of a five-phase long-term plan that can grow the terminal’s maximum annual throughput capacity to 1.5 million TEUs. Under the Phase 3 development, a 400-foot dock extension, super Post-Panamax crane rails and upgrades to the fender system will accommodate 14,000 TEU ships. 

The 20-acre yard expansion ensures excess capacity at the terminal to accommodate new shipper and carrier business opportunities. The dock extension will take approximately 24 months to complete, while the yard will take 18 months to complete.

When completed, Phase 3 will complement the recently commissioned Phase 2 investments that delivered 20 acres and installed two new super Post-Panamax cranes to serve new business through the terminal, including containers bound for Wal-Mart’s 2.6 million-square-foot import distribution center in Mobile.

The project will also complement the recently completed Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, which is accessible by five Class I railroads, including the Canadian National, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern and BNSF. Currently the Canadian National provides container intermodal rail service to key United States midwest and Canadian markets.  

“Container intermodal growth continues to drive investment at the Port of Mobile,” James Lyons, ASPA chief executive, said. Since 2005, the Port Authority and its partners have invested $535 million in shore-side and channel improvements to support the larger ships calling at the Port of Mobile. 

“These prior investments have competitively positioned the port and established Mobile as an alternate gateway for U.S. trade. This expansion and our planned harbor deepening and widening program will provide both shippers and carriers with a cost-effective, customer service-oriented option,” he said.

Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers harbor modernization study is underway, with a record of decision expected by year-end 2019.    

APM Terminals is a leading global port and cargo inland services provider with a presence in 59 countries with 76 operating port and terminal facilities, five new port facilities under construction and an inland services network spanning 117 operations at 87 locations in 37 countries. Based in The Hague, Netherlands, the company works with shipping lines and importers’/exporters’ governments

ASPA owns and operates the state of Alabama’s public deepwater port facilities at the Port of Mobile, currently ranked 10th among U.S. seaports by volume. The Authority’s container, general cargo and bulk facilities have immediate access to two interstate systems, five Class 1 railroads and nearly 15,000 miles of inland waterway connections. 

Austal USA delivers second EPF to Navy
Austal USA met with U.S. Navy officials recently to finalize paperwork to make the delivery of USNS City of Bismarck (EPF 9) official. The EPF 9 is the second ship in the program Austal delivered in 2017, with the Navy taking delivery of USNS Yuma (EPF 8) earlier this year, according to a news release.

The EPF program provides the Navy with a high-speed, intra-theater transport capability. The 338-foot long City of Bismarck is an aluminum catamaran capable of transporting 600 tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots and is designed to operate in ports and waterways that are too shallow and narrow for the larger ships in the Navy’s surface fleet, providing added flexibility to military operations worldwide. The ship’s flight deck can also support flight operations for a wide variety of manned and unmanned aircraft, including a CH-53 Super Stallion.

“We take great pride in sending another EPF to join the MSC fleet thanks to the commitment of our talented shipbuilding team,” Austal USA president Craig Perciavalle said.

“It’s exciting to see how our U.S. Navy is combining this platform with the capabilities of the Littoral Combat Ship platform and expanding their mission sets to support a wide variety of operational needs around the globe. Most recently LCS 4 and EPFs 3, 4 and 6 worked together to give the Navy access to over a thousand port locations in the littoral regions of South and Southeast Asia,” Perciavalle added.

The delivery marks the ninth EPF ship delivered to the Navy as part of a contract for 12 ships worth more than $1.9 billion. Three additional Spearhead-class EPFs are currently under construction at Austal’s Mobile shipyard. USNS Burlington (EPF 10) is being erected in final assembly and modules for the USNS Puerto Rico (EPF 11), as well as yet unnamed EPF 12, are under construction in Austal’s module manufacturing facility.

In addition to the EPF program, Austal is under contract to build Independence-variant LCS for the U.S. Navy. Six LCS have been delivered while an additional seven are in various stages of construction.

Austal USA is a subsidiary of Australia-based Austal Limited and headquartered in Mobile, with offices in San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Singapore. The nation’s fifth largest shipyard is on contract with the U.S. Navy to build two high-speed advanced ship classes, the Expeditionary Fast Transport (formerly known as the Joint High Speed Vessel) and the Independence-variant LCS. Also of note is that the company has earned 10 safety awards in its 18-year maritime manufacturing history.