An Economic Game Changer On the Horizon

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GT USA & Port Canaveral

GT USA’s new Canaveral Cargo Terminal (CCT) opened for business at Port Canaveral in June with the maiden call of the CMA CGM Jamaica, the 264-meter cargo vessel with a capacity of 4,298 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) berthing at the port to be part of Florida shipping history before crossing the Atlantic.

The unveiling of the only dedicated container terminal at the port, witnessed by more than 200 state, U.S. and international public officials and leaders of business and maritime, is the start of a new era – both for Port Canaveral, the second busiest cruise passenger port in the world behind Miami, and for its new partner in trade.

GT USA is the U.S. division of Gulftainer, the world’s largest, privately owned, independent port management and logistics company. John Walsh, CEO of canaveral Port Authority, and Badr Jafr, chairman of Gulftainer’s Executive Board, signed a 35-year agreement in June 2014, marking Gulftainer’s first venture in the United States.

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Peter Richards, Gulftainer and Joe Cruise, GT USA

With roots in one of the most important trading routes between East and West, Gulftainer launched in 1976 to manage operations at the Sharjah Container Terminal, in the United Arab Emirates, the first container terminal in the Middle East and a milestone for an emerging container industry at the time.

Since then, Gulftainer has expanded its operations globally to handle more than 6 million TEUs per year, and over the next decade, aims to triple its productivity to more than 18 million TEUs.

“To have a significant presence in North America has long been one of our goals, and the creation of GT USA is one of the most important steps forward in our plan,” said Peter Richards, the managing director of Gulftainer who is overseeing the expansion into the United States.

Richards, a qualified Master Mariner, has 12 years of seagoing experience and 28 years managing and operating port and container terminals. In his current position at Gulftainer since 2006, he has helped diversify the company from a port operator to a comprehensive logistics supplier with a portfolio that has expanded beyond the United Arab Emirates to Iraq, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and now the United States.

Expanding Markets

Today, over 90 percent of world trade is still carried by sea. In the United States, seaports are responsible for moving more than 99 percent of the country’s overseas cargo by weight. With the increasing efficiency of shipping and the continued expansion of world markets, the prospects for the industry’s continued growth remain robust. Containerships now carry over 60 percent of the total global value of goods shipped by sea.

Since announcing the historic agreement in June 2014, GT USA has been on an aggressive schedule to open for business  – putting in place its executive team of commercial, operations and terminal managers; moving into its new offices on the second floor at Canaveral Port Authority headquarters; and working with the port to develop the north cargo terminal site in preparation of the first container customers. It begins operations with a capacity of 200,000 TEUs, and has ambitious plans to triple capacity to 750,000 TEUs.

GT USA is investing $100 million in the new state‐of‐the‐art container terminal, infrastructure, portequipment and people, operations that are expected to generate 2,000 jobs when fully operational.

“We are committed to building long-term relationships with shipping lines and cargo enterprises, as well as with the business partners of Port Authority to establishing Port Canaveral as the terminal of choice,” Richards said. “This is highlighted by the opening of our new office and the hiring of qualified and experienced personnel who will play key roles in driving our business.”

Joe Cruise was hired in February as GT USA’s commercial manager.  With more than three decades of experience in the shipping and ports industry, Cruise is responsible for leading and managing all sales activities. 

“CCT serves as an ideal gateway for the Florida market and beyond, and in particular provides an excellent connection to the bustling consumption centers and growing number of distribution centers within Central Florida,” he stated.

In just four months, Cruise has crossed the state, visited cities throughout the U.S., and traveled to Mexico, forging business relationships with shipping lines, importers, exporters, freight stakeholders, inland transportation providers and major Florida companies.

“When I tell them that any box imported into Florida through Canaveral Cargo Terminal can reach a consignee’s warehouse in Central Florida within 1-2 hours, the fastest transit time versus any other container terminal in Florida, it gets their attention,” Cruise said. “GT USA will provide crucial service to the importers and exporters within the state and beyond who understand that time is money.”

Transforming Port Canaveral

Gulftainer has earned a reputation for best-of-class service and for working in partnership to operate some of the most efficient ports in the world. The company has recorded consistent growth over the past decade, averaging over 12 percent compared to global market growth of 8.6 percent during the same period.

port canaveral factsUpon signing the agreement with GT USA, Port Canaveral’s John Walsh said, “Ports operated by Gulftainer are ranked first in Europe, Middle East and Africa and third globally in productivity by the Journal of Commerce Port Productivity Report. We are confident of its ability to create tangible returns for Port Canaveral in a short span of time.”

After years of success as a bulk and break bulk cargo site, Port Canaveral is focused on becoming an important container player by attracting vessels that can profit from its less-congested, strategically located facilities in proximity to major cities like Orlando. Being one of the few Florida ports with space for cargo growth puts Port Canaveral in an enviable position to expand its business. To do just that, the port is widening and deepening the channel to improve navigation for larger cargo and cruise vessels. It invested in the two gantry cranes that tower over the north cargo berths, each one designed to lift more than 90,000 pounds and move a container from ship to truck in 45 seconds.

“Over the next few years, as the Panama Canal completes its expansion, Port Canaveral will also have undergone a transformation to accommodate the larger vessels that world trade demands,” pointed out Richards. “We are confident that shippers, distribution centers, businesses and investors will see Port Canaveral as responsive, secure, flexible and innovative.”