Key stakeholders behind the efforts to launch Container-on-Vessel (COV) service to the Midwest announced that Hawtex Development Corporation is signing on as the lead developer for a new COV port facility in Jefferson County, Missouri, to be developed in collaboration with Fred Weber/Riverview Commerce Park LLC and integrating a 300+ acre adjacent parcel owned by The Doe Run Company.
The new port will be a critical link on the new, all-water, north-south trade lane connecting the Midwest and the St. Louis region to the lower Mississippi River and on to worldwide destinations.
Representatives from the Jefferson County Port Authority; Jefferson County, Missouri, Bi-State Development; American Patriot Holdings LLC/American Patriot Container Transport LLC; and APM Terminals joined the newest partners in this initiative on Dec. 17 in Herculaneum, Missouri., where the port will be located, to provide details on the new facility and the service it will support.
Hawtex Development Corporation, a business development and consulting company with operations in Texas and Hawaii, has been working with American Partiot Holdings over the past several years to help in identifying and establishing market-ready locations for Mississippi River intermodal container facilities, with an initial focus on the Memphis and St. Louis regions.
In the St. Louis region, the Herculaneum site that is already home to Fred Weber/RCP’s current port facility and adjacent to the parcel owned by The Doe Run Company, emerged as the most advantageous site to develop a state-of-the-art intermodal container facility to serve this central Midwest region for both the export and import of containerized cargo.
The facility is in the early stages of development and the new partnership allows all parties to start planning efforts that enable final investment decisions. The total amount of the investment to be made at the new port is yet to be determined.
Sal Litrico, Chief Executive Officer, American Patriot Container Transport LLC (APCT), which is developing the patented new vessels that will carry the containerized cargo along the underutilized Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri rivers, also revealed at the event that APCT has issued a solicitation to seven US shipyards for construction of four of the patented container on vessels that will provide the new COV service, and an option for four more, another critical milestone in this initiative. The call for submissions was issued Dec. 14 and proposals are due at the end of February.
The announcement about the new Jefferson County facility follows news of other recent milestones met that are helping to move the new COV service closer to reality. In August of 2020, American Patriot Holdings LLC and Plaquemines Port Harbor and Terminal District in Louisiana announced they had signed a letter of intent to develop a multimodal, state-of-the-art container terminal at its facility near the mouth of the Mississippi River, which would be the gateway port for the new COV service. APM Terminals North America was recently announced as the Container-on-Vessel terminal operator for the gateway port and is working with global shippers to integrate this proposed new logistics system with Midwest manufacturers and producers.
The vessels and the opportunity
The patented APCT vessels will be built in two sizes with the larger “Liner” vessel traveling between the gateway terminal in Plaquemines and the Mississippi River ports in Memphis, Tenn., and the new port facility in Herculaneum. The smaller “Hybrid” vessel will have a container capacity of 1,800 TEUs and is designed to move through locks and low-lying bridges on the tributary rivers, providing service from those two primary Midwest ports to feeder ports along the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers in the St. Louis region and other upstream ports, including ports in Kansas City and Jefferson City in Missouri and in Joliet and Cairo in Illinois and Fort Smith in Arkansas.
Both vessels are designed with a patented “Exoskeleton Hull Structure” designed to limit the vessels’ lightship weight to maximize cargo payload. The second patented feature is the “Minimal Wake Bow Structure” which minimizes hull resistance enabling upriver speed of 13 miles per hour with minimal wake. Expected round trip times to Memphis is six days and St. Louis in 10 days, significantly faster than traditional barge tows. The vessels will also be environmentally friendly, utilizing LNG (liquefied natural gas) power, and cargo flexible with ability to carry a diversity of cargo, including refrigerated containers.
The proposed new service will also be welcomed by members of the agriculture industry, who recognize that currently 50 percent of U.S. crops and livestock are produced within a 500-mile radius of the St. Louis region, including approximately 80 percent of corn and soybean acreage.