Two 214-foot tall cranes work to unload their first cargo shipments at the South Terminal of the Port of Everett on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Two 214-foot tall cranes work to unload their first cargo shipments at the South Terminal of the Port of Everett on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Renovated Port of Everett terminal gets first cargo customer

The 655-foot Westwood Columbia is the first ship to call at the newly upgraded South Terminal dock.

EVERETT — The newly renovated South Terminal of the Port of Everett has welcomed its first cargo ship after a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project gave it more muscle and capacity.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Westwood Columbia, a 655-foot ship carrying aerospace components, consumer goods and industrial equipment, pulled into the South Terminal to unload.

The vessel has called at the port’s Pacific Terminal for many years, but it and other cargo carriers can now expect easier, faster service, port spokeswoman Cat Soper said.

“Now that we have fully functional cranes on South Terminal, this ship can be berthed at either terminal for loading and unloading,” Soper said.

Carl Wollebek, the port’s chief operating officer called it an historic milestone that “brings years of planning and $57 million in strategic capital investment to fruition. This new terminal allows us to market our facilities to larger ships and heavier cargoes to keep our region competitive and support the port’s cargo diversification and economic recovery efforts.”

The Columbia’s arrival also gave a pair of 214-foot cranes their first commercial workout.

Cargo is offloaded from Westwood Columbia, a 655-foot ship carrying aerospace components, consumer goods and industrial equipment, at South Terminal of the Port of Everett on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cargo is offloaded from Westwood Columbia, a 655-foot ship carrying aerospace components, consumer goods and industrial equipment, at South Terminal of the Port of Everett on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Wider, faster and 20 feet taller than the cranes at the Pacific Terminal up the shore, their added reach and lift allows for the more efficient handling of heavy and oversized containers, Soper said.

The light-green cranes were at the center of a legal battle that cost the port $590,000 because it couldn’t afford the $3 million price tag to paint them smoky blue. The settlement satisfied an Everett family’s lawsuit over their color.

The renovation began more than four years ago and strengthened 140 feet of the 700-foot dock. The second phase of the project, which got underway in 2018, strengthened the rest of the dock and added multiple upgrades to the terminal.

Built in the 1970s for log operations, the wharf’s wooden pilings could accommodate up to 500 pounds per square foot. Modern cargo operations require twice as much.

The project installed new steel pilings, raising the South Terminal’s capacity to 1,000 pounds per square foot.

The two cranes at the South Terminal of the Port of Everett on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The two cranes at the South Terminal of the Port of Everett on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Before improvements, the port could accommodate ships up to 650 feet in length. Now it can serve ships up to 950 feet. The upgrade also allows vessels to plug into shore power while they’re docked instead of running their engines.

“Having this new full-service terminal allows our customers at Westwood, as well as other customers in our portfolio, to increase the size of the vessels they are bringing into Everett,” Soper said.

That could be a boost for a port that expects to see revenue drop by $8 million in 2020-21, the result of the economic downturn and turbulence in the aerospace industry.

Captain Mike Ross, vice president of marine operations and vessel safety with Westwood, said the “upgraded South Terminal is only going to enhance the opportunities for Westwood Shipping Lines to bring in bigger product and more business to Everett.”

Westwood is the largest shipping line serving the port.

“We look forward to growing our business relationship with the Port of Everett, and being able to offer the increased crane capacity is certainly going to open up more business opportunities for both of us,” Ross said.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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