Hoping to capitalize on increased Caribbean shipping from Panama Canal improvements, the V.I. Economic Development Authority, V.I. Port Authority and St. Croix Renaissance Group have signed a memorandum to develop an international transshipment port on St. Croix, according to the EDA. The goal would be to have the port become one of the central locations regulating stockpiles for major manufacturers and distributors to access the Caribbean reg ion.
“We are fortunate to have a range of port facilities that, to date, have been under-utilized but with changing market conditions and our focus economic diversification are well positioned to take advantage of regional opportunities. Additionally, this strength is exhibited in the partnership of St. Croix Renaissance, EDA and VIPA to go implement a coordinated plan,” Gov. John deJongh Jr. said in a statement.
The St. Croix Renaissance Park , a 1,244-acre industrial park located on the south coast of St. Croix, has a deep-water port. “The Containerport” is a facility located on a 45-acre parcel on the south shore on St. Croix.
In October, Government House issued a statement emphasizing the potential for growth in transshipment in the region, pointing to Panama’s "Third Set of Locks Project," estimated to be completed by 2015, which will allow large freight ships to pass through the canal for the first time.
The project could give St. Croix a chance to capitalize on the increased freight traffic by developing a transshipment facility, using the available 100-plus acres of land at the Renaissance Park.
The Panama Canal expansion will also mean increased accessibility for larger cargo ships, called “Super Post-Panamax” vessels, some of which are more than 300 yards wide. These cargo ships will be able to cross the canal for the first time.
According to the maritime industry website MarineLog.com, the Third Set of Locks Project will double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2015 by creating a new lane of traffic and allowing more and larger ships to transit. The project will build two new locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides, excavate new channels to the new locks, and widen and deepen existing channels.
"Exploring the potential opportunities our Territory’s marine assets can offer is certainly a worthwhile investment." said VIEDA’s Chief Executive Officer Percival Clouden.
Both the VIEDA and VIPA are semi-autonomous governmental authorities in the Territory.The VIEDA is responsible for the promotion and enhancement of economic development of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
VIPA owns and manages various V.I. government properties which include the Wilfred "Bomba" Allick Port and Transshipment Center and the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier on the south side of St. Croix. The St. Croix Renaissance Group owns a partially underdeveloped industrial park and related port facility located adjacent to VIPA’s containerport and airport on St. Croix.