The Port of Virginia has begun the first phase of a project that will deepen and widen its shipping channels to accommodate larger vessels and make it the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast, port officials said today. The project got underway ahead of schedule following a final approval from the federal government, officials also said.
The work includes dredging the port's shipping channels to 55 feet, with deeper ocean approaches, and widening them up to 1,400 feet in certain areas. When dredging is complete in 2024, the commercial channels serving the Norfolk Harbor will be able to simultaneously accommodate two ultra-large container vessels, officials said.
"Today, the work to make The Port of Virginia the deepest port on the U.S. East Coast gets underway," John F. Reinhart, Virginia Port Authority CEO and executive director said in a statement. "This project holds long-term benefits for Virginia, for the port, for cargo owners, our customers, and the ocean carriers. Safe, two-way movement of ultra-large container vessels, unrestricted by tide, is a significant competitive advantage for our port. This project and all other improvements we are making at the terminals tells the ocean carriers 'we are ready for your big ships.'"
The dredge work is starting nearly two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule, Reinhart added.