Freighter terminal welcomes first cargo ship

By: Rebecca Turco

NEW BEDFORD – A historic day in New Bedford, as the city looks to expand its shipping industry and enter the global economy.

On Monday, the city's 28-acre, $113 million Marine Commerce Terminal, began unloading its first cargo shop. This, after two years of building the terminal and even more years getting the plans approved and funding in order.

It is one of only a few terminals in the nation that can support such heavy loads. Mayor Jon Mitchell hopes that gives the city a competitive advantage. "You build on the assets you have and you continue to build and build, and eventually you get opportunities you never even expected to have," he explained.

In the meantime, union leaders are excited for the job opportunities. Around 65 people worked in Monday's unloading, 19 of whom were union workers. "Hopefully we'll have more ships…that require more manpower and employ more people," said Ed Lancombe of the International Longshoremen's Association.

The terminal also serves as a staging area for offshore wind energy projects. The 409-feet long cargo ship unloaded Monday carried turbine parts headed to a Plymouth-based project that will supply 15-percent of New Bedford's annual electricity usage from a wind source.
"It offers clean..endlessly renewable energy," Mitchell explained. 

He said he wants to take advantage of this industry, dominated by Europe, since 25-percent of the nation's wind reserves lie south of Martha's Vineyard. He hopes the city will fully reap the energy benefits from this terminal in the next two to three years.

(c) WLNE-TV 2015