Almost a month and a half after modernized Terminal 5 opened for international cargo shipping, it has yet to use a major feature of that modernization – shore power. We visited T-5 this morning as the largest vessel yet, MSC Virgo, was being unloaded:
Virgo is 1,200 feet long, with a capacity of 15,000 TEUs, the second-biggest ship ever to be served by the Northwest Seaport Alliance (the joint cargo authority of the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma) – the biggest was CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, the 18,000-TEU megaship that made a much-celebrated visit six years ago at Terminal 18 on Harbor Island. So why isn’t MSC Virgo using shore power? NWSA spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh says it’s a labor issue that terminal operator SSA is working on: “Currently, labor parties are negotiating the use of shore power equipment on the terminal and usage will be determined when negotiations are complete.” Meantime, what are literally the biggest aspects of the modernization work, the four giant cranes, are working well, Stambaugh says.
Some of the cargo brought in by Virgo will be transported away by rail, another key operational advantage of T-5. NWSA says there’s no ship backup currently here, but Canada still has issues, so it’s expecting to see more cargo that was originally intended to be offloaded there – a “huge win” as described at the most-recent NWSA managing-members meeting. Virgo, meantime, will be here until Monday; the shipping schedule changes frequently but you can watch it here to see what’s next.
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