The new, $300 million Mobile Container Terminal is getting a third service starting Jan. 29, Denmark-based shipper A.P. Moller-Maersk Group announced. The line's weekly vessel calls promise to bring up to 18,000 containers through the terminal each year, bringing the total to more than 120,000 units including the two shipping lines already committed.
The three lines will bring the terminal to about half of its phase-one capacity of 350,000 TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, a year. TEU describes the length of a standard shipping container. The new Maersk service, Expreso, carries items such as coffee, textiles and chemicals between the U.S. and Central America. It is adding Mobile to Houston and New Orleans stops.
"It's a great service in an area (central America) that we don't have," said Jimmy Lyons, director of the Alabama State Port Authority. "We have some occasional break-bulk service into those countries, but having a weekly container service is really going to help a lot of Alabama businesses ship into those areas."
The terminal, which started regular operations Oct. 2, represents a partnership between the Port Authority and Mobile Container Terminal LLC, a consortium consisting of AP Moller-Maersk subsidiary APM Terminals of North America Inc., which has an 80-percent stake, and Terminal Link, a division of CMA CGM, which has a 20-percent stake.
Half the investment, $150 million, is the authority's, and half is Mobile Container Terminal's. The terminal's ultimate capacity is about 800,000 units.
The Expreso service calls on various ports in Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala.
Maersk also said it is adding Progreso, Mexico, and Belize Port, Belize, to its ports of call and adding a fourth vessel.
Lyons said the additions will enhance vessel reliability and transit times and should help sell the Expreso service.
When it opened, the terminal had a ready-made customer in the form of ZIM integrated Shipping Services, which formerly used the state docks for a service that links Mobile with Jamaica, and the Far East. That service promises to bring up to 52,000 containers through the facility annually.
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