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The Port of Virginia welcomed a pair of massive container cranes to its Norfolk International Terminals (NIT) this week, the final pieces of equipment needed to complete a $450 million, two- a-half-year-long renovation of the terminal’s South Berth, port officials said Thursday. The cranes increase the port’s ability to handle larger volume ships—now and down the road, officials said.

The cranes will be able to accommodate so-called ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) that make regular stops in Virginia, as well as higher-volume “ships of the future,” according to the port. The cranes have the capacity to reach across a vessel that is 26 containers wide—three-to-four containers beyond the reach of most cranes. Port of Virginia officials said the cranes are the largest of their kind in the United States. 

The newest cranes complement existing, similar cranes at the port’s Virginia International Gateway (VIG).

“It’s a landmark moment for The Port of Virginia because it signals the completion of the overall expansion of this port that started back in 2016,” John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, said in a statement Thursday. “With these units we’ll have significant lift capacity in the harbor and the ability to handle multiple ULCVs [ultra-large container ships] at once at both NIT and Virginia International Gateway (VIG). This benefits the port’s users and it says, very clearly, to the ocean carriers and the industry that we are prepared to handle big ships and growing cargo volumes safely, swiftly, and sustainably for decades to come.”

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