PALMETTO, Florida – Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping is expanding its fast-growing weekly services crossing the Gulf of Mexico, deploying a significantly larger third company-owned vessel, introducing a fleet of 53-foot-long ocean containers, adding a fourth Mexican port of call and employing more than 30 workers at the port.
“The continuing advancement of WDS as one of the world’s most rapidly growing container lines is a driving force behind record volumes moving across the docks of Southwest and Central Florida’s premier global gateway,” said Reggie Bellamy, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority, who in a Wednesday [May 5] ceremony recognized the arrival of M/V Queen B III.
The latest addition to the WDS fleet, the 590-foot-long M/V Queen B III can carry as many as 1,800 twenty-foot-equivalent units of containerized cargo – nearly three times the maximum capacity of either of the line’s M/V Queen B and M/V Queen B II.
“With M/V Queen B III, as well as enhancements to our container fleet, the addition of Progreso to our calls and the hiring of dozens of people as terminal and warehouse operators, World Direct Shipping is bolstering efficiencies for dependably serving our customers,” said Carlos Diaz, director of WDS, which began in late 2014 with a single vessel on one weekly service linking Port Manatee with the southern Veracruz port of Coatzacoalcos.
WDS now operates three weekly services, providing three-day transit times offering the fastest short-sea connection between Mexico and the U.S. Southeast, Northeast and Midwest for refrigerated produce and other cargos, according to Diaz. Weekly calls at Progreso, in the Mexican state of Yucatan, were added this year, with that port joining Coatzacoalcos, the central Veracruz port of Tuxpan and the southern Tamaulipas port of Tampico on WDS itineraries.
This spring also has seen WDS augment its equipment fleet with more than 400 53-foot-long maritime containers that furnish greater cubic capacity for lightweight dry cargos. And the company has assumed control over its warehouse and terminal activities at Port Manatee, bringing in its own reachstackers while hiring a dedicated workforce.
World Direct Shipping enjoyed a 40 percent year-over-year increase in container volume in calendar 2020 compared with 2019, according to Diaz, whose company last year extended its agreement with Port Manatee through 2026. Imports include perishable fruits and vegetables, sugar, appliances and household products, while exports to Mexico are led by paper products.
“The sustained growth of World Direct Shipping and its ongoing partnership with Port Manatee are emblematic of our shared commitment to providing optimum service,” said Carlos Buqueras, Port Manatee’s executive director.
Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” Port Manatee is a dynamic global trade hub, serving as the vibrant ships-to-shelves gateway for burgeoning Southwest and Central Florida markets. The closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, Port Manatee offers 10 deep-draft berths, proficiently fulfilling diverse demands of container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $3.9 billion in annual economic impacts while providing for more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs – all without benefit of local property tax support.