SAN JUAN – Amid concerns over the disbanding of a major shipper of merchandise to Puerto Rico, authorities have issued an appeal for calm and given assurances about future supplies to the Caribbean island.
In a statement Thursday, the executive director of the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, Ingrid Colberg Rodriguez, said freight operations at the Port of San Juan – the U.S. commonwealth’s busiest – are “stable and secure” despite Charlotte, North Carolina-based Horizon Lines’ announcement late last year that it will cease operations and shut down its Puerto Rico domestic liner service.
Horizon also announced last November that it will be acquired by Matson Inc. for $0.72 a share in an all-cash transaction.
“The shipping industry keeps undergoing changes amid great challenges and Horizon’s exit is the most recent of these. We’ll keep cooperating with (Puerto Rico’s) shipping sector to keep maritime transport operating,” Colberg Rodriguez said.
Puerto Rico imports 85 percent of what it consumes and Horizon Lines had hauled 30 percent of that merchandise.
Colberg also noted that one of the remaining three shipping companies supplying the island, Jacksonville, Florida-based Crowley Maritime Corporation, announced in January that it will be adding a “flat-deck” barge to its South Atlantic Puerto Rico service, thus increasing the rotation between Jacksonville, Fla., and San Juan to four sailings per week.
Crowley said then that it also will replace its existing 580-foot, triple-deck barges with larger, 730-foot, triple-deck barges in the North Atlantic-Puerto Rico trade between New Jersey and San Juan.