JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Port Authority and terminal operator SSA Atlantic on Monday afternoon welcomed the largest container ship to ever visit Jacksonville.
Cape Sounio traveled through the Panama Canal from Asia before reaching the U.S. East Coast and arriving about 1 p.m. Monday at the Blount Island Marine Terminal, where cargo was loaded and offloaded.
The ship’s arrival comes just hours after U.S. Sen. Rick Scott and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford visited JaxPort to talk about their commitment to help secure federal funding for the Harbor Deepening Project, which is already underway and is expected to be complete in 2023.
The arrival also comes two weeks after JaxPort and SSA reached a long-term agreement on a state-of-the-art, $238.7 million international container terminal at Blount Island. Upon completion of deepening 11 miles of the St. Johns River to 47 feet, the facility will offer a vessel turning basin and deep-water access to allow vessels like Cape Sounio to do business at JaxPort more fully loaded.
Vincent Cameron, president of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1408, called the arrival of Cape Sounio a sign of progress.
"If we can make a bigger, wider conveyance for these vessels, then they can come here then hit the road -- whether it's on (Interstate) 95, I-75, I-10, you name it -- or three major rails," Cameron said. "We've got the infrastructure to make this happen and this here is the physical presentation of that fact."
Cape Sounio and ships like it will be able to carry 11,000 containers into the port once the Harbor Deepening Project is complete.
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