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JaxPort could handle 50% increase in volume if ships off California coast decide to head east, official says

A push is underway to attract major shipping contracts to Jacksonville from other ports around the country.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A push is underway to attract major shipping contracts to Jacksonville from other ports around the country.

Major ports from California to Savannah are backed up due to supply chain issues.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made this pitch, particularly aimed at California to attract all those backed-up shipping liners to Jacksonville.

There’s no backup for ships in Jacksonville, and the city may cash in.

The Jacksonville Port Authority has been in the process of expanding from deepening the harbor to opening more spots for shipping liners. Robert Peek, director and general manager of business development for JaxPort, said that right now, the port could handle a 50% increase in volume if many of the ships off the California coast decide to head east. Sometimes they’re backed up at least 30 ships deep.

News4Jax asked what benefit this would have locally.

“It is the job factor, and that is every ship that docks in Jacksonville means more jobs for Jacksonville residents — longshoremen who actually load and unload those ships,” Peek said.

News4Jax also asked whether shipping companies would feasibly reroute ships from California down through the Panama Canal to Florida. Peek said this is not an outlandish proposal.

“Sometimes shippers will ship that cargo into California or the West Coast. Then they will pay to have it moved by rail or maybe by truck all the way to Florida or the Southeastern United States. It makes a lot of sense to ship that directly to Florida seaports and Jacksonville,” Peek said.

Peek told News4Jax that JaxPort has snagged a major shipping liner from Savannah, which is having similar problems. This comes on the heels of JaxPort having its biggest year to date — up 10% over 2020.

And the dredging project, which should allow bigger ships to come in, is expected to be finished next June.


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