French container shipping group CMA CGM have announced their intentions regarding future development of their freight services in the Caribbean region by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Port of Kingston. The decision was arrived at after CMA CGM had fully studied the ramifications of the ongoing widening of the Panama Canal.
CMA CGM believe that the increased canal capacity will mean Panamax vessels with up to 12,500 TEU capacity (over three times the current size permissible) will inevitably lead to a major reorganisation of shipping, particularly in the Caribbean and North America region. Handling the cargo carried by vessels of this size requires expanded port facilities at hubs physically equipped to deal with such ships and capable of offering a fast, efficient turnaround.
CMA CGM believe that to take advantage of the new situation the signing of the MoU for the operation, equipment and expansion of the Gordon Cay Container Terminal (South Terminal) in the Jamaican port for a minimum thirty five year period was an essential component for such development. The project to develop the terminal is based on the existing facilities before the terminal is fully commissioned in 2015. Once operational the Gordon Cay Terminal will have a 1,300m quay after the first phase, with potential to develop an extra 1,700m, and a 17m draft capability to accommodate the "New Panamax" vessels.