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Port Canaveral: The key to Florida’s auto market
American Shipper
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Port Canaveral continues to move forward with upgrades amid strong growth in its cargo and cruise sectors.

Although it is the second-busiest cruise port in the world behind only Port Miami, Port Canaveral plays a critical role in handling spacecraft components and serving Florida’s booming automobile market.

For fiscal year 2018, which ed Sept. 30, the port’s total revenues stood at $103.8 million, up 6 percent year-over-year, while cargo tonnage clocked in at 6.4 million tons, up 7 percent from the prior fiscal year.Cruise revenues for fiscal year 2018 reached $77.7 million, while cargo revenues totaled $10.2 million, up 7 percent and 18 percent year-over-year, respectively.

Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray said during the state of the port address earlier this month that Central Florida’s growth is driving the port’s cargo business.

The port handled 211,912 tons of lumber during fiscal year 2018, up 91 percent year-over-year, which Murray said was due to construction in Central Florida. Most of the port’s lumber imports come from Scandinavia and Germany, he said.

Newsprint for the fiscal year totaled 78,586 tons, up 68 percent from fiscal year 2017. Murray said this growth likely will decline since most of the newsprint was not for newspapers but was used to flyers for the election cycle.

The port also handled 964,307 tons of aggregates and 332,180 tons of salt, up 29 percent and 20 percent year-over-year, respectively.

Key to Florida’s Auto Market. Port Canaveral handled 21,324 new automobiles in fiscal year 2018, up 59 percent from the prior fiscal year, and Murray said the port expects to handle even more automobiles in fiscal year 2019.

Noting Orlando’s huge rental car market, Murray told American Shipper that the port is “penetrating and perfecting” the Florida market only. The Orlando International Airport touts that the metropolitan area is the largest rental car market in the world.

Port Canaveral’s centralized location in Florida allows manufacturers to save on their inland distribution costs, Murray said, adding that Port Miami and Port Everglades do not have the landside infrastructure to handle the volume of vehicles that Port Canaveral does.
Vehicles arriving in Port Canaveral are imported from Mexico and Asia. Murray said that once the vehicles arrive, they move off the terminal and are delivered to dealers very quickly and that the port is “not a storage facility for new cars.”

A New Multipurpose Berth. The Canaveral Port Authority in January voted unanimously to move forward with building a multipurpose cargo berth, North Cargo Berth 8 (NCB8), and site work began in March. The port said NCB8 will accommodate a growing cargo portfolio, including commercial spacecraft components.

The project to build NCB8 will cost about $18 million, with nearly $8 million coming from grant funding. NCB8 will be completed in the middle of next year and is the last undeveloped bulkhead at the port.

On the Horizon. Looking ahead, the port’s new $6.2 million mobile harbor crane being built by Liebherr in Germany will be operational by the second quarter of 2019. Murray told American Shipper that, according to Liebherr, it will be the largest mobile harbor crane in the United States.

Port Canaveral is looking to put the crane at North Cargo Berth 5, and although no cranes are currently earmarked for NCB8, the mobile harbor crane could easily be moved over to the new berth if needed.

Murray said during the state of the port address the mobile harbor crane will allow Port Canaveral to expand its capabilities and sell new offerings with respect to heavy lifts.

Port Canaveral’s cargo growth remains depent on continued regional demand, he said, adding that the port’s cargo sector is expected to remain “s.”

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