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Port of Philadelphia welcomes 1st direct maritime shipping service with Asia

Posted on August 22, 2022

A major development at Philadelphia’s port will be a game changer. At least that’s the hope of state and city officials who celebrated the first direct maritime shipping service between Philadelphia and Asia on Thursday.

City, state and federal officials gathered to greet Philadelphia’s maiden call of Wan Hai Lines, a Taiwanese shipping giant that will make direct weekly trips between the city and Asian ports.

“It is a great day in the history of the Port of Philadelphia,” said PhilaPort Chairman Jerry Sweeney. “This is the beginning of our next chapter.”

For Wan Hai Lines Vice Chairman Randy Chen, it was a natural business decision.

“We want to continue to expand our network to include ports such as Philadelphia, to make sure that we diversify and get back to peak supply chain efficiency,” said Chen.

“Breaking into the Asian market is huge for us,” Sweeney added. “The confidence that Vice Chairman Chen showed in selecting the Port of Philadelphia is a great signal to the worldwide maritime industry that Philadelphia is now on the map.”

The day culminated a years-long effort to revitalize the port, which had been shrinking for decades because it was too shallow for ever-growing container ships.

Since a project to deepen the channel was completed in 2016, Pennsylvania government has poured about $600 million into port facilities, an investment Gov. Tom Wolf says has paid off. Beginning in 2008, crews worked on deepening parts of the main channel of the Delaware River to 45 feet.

“This port keeps growing, it’s going to create jobs for the people here in Philadelphia, and it’s going to drive the economy of Pennsylvania,” said Wolf.

“It’s so much bigger now than it was. It’s going to be even bigger.”

Mayor Jim Kenney said Thursday’s maiden voyage is a turning point.

“This service is the most important commercial gain for Philaport in many, many decades,” said Kenney. “Direct service to Asia puts our port in a whole new league.”


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