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Chiquita returns to West Pier

GULFPORT — Operations for Chiquita Brands International Inc., a major importer of bananas, have returned to the Port of Gulfport’s West Pier, Berth 1.

Chiquita’s vessel, the 666-foot long EUROS LISBON, docked at Berth 1 on the West Pier earlier this month, marking the first time in more than four years that the docking space was available for use.

Chiquita relocated its operations to other areas within the Port of Gulfport after Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged the company’s west pier berth. Tony Caranna, Chiquita’s operations manager for the Gulf of Mexico, said the company’s return to Berth 1 would result in more efficient operations.

The restored berths can support up to 1,000 pounds per square foot, while the previous berths, which were constructed in the 1950s, could only handle weights of 400 to 500 pounds per square foot.

“This is a major milestone in our restoration process,” said Don Allee, executive director and CEO of the Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport.

During the $51-million rebuilding project at the West Pier, two docking berths have been fully restored, and restoration work on a third berth should be completed in 2010. Allee noted that bananas account for 74 percent of the total annual imported freight into the Port of Gulfport.

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