After many months of trying to gain entrance to the Cuba market, Crowley Liner Services succeeded in a big way Sunday, making the first commercial cargo delivery directly from the United States to Havana, Cuba in nearly 40 years.
Crowley's Express departed Gulfport, Miss., about 6 p.m. December 14 with 500 tons of containerized frozen chicken and arrived dockside
in Cuba about 12:30 p.m. December 16, approximately three-and-a-half hours ahead of a bulk ship that had departed New Orleans December 14 with corn. This was the first shipment by Crowley for Alimport, the Cuban agency involved with purchasing food products for its country. Alimport contracted with Crowley to transport containerized frozen poultry and dry food products from the United States to Cuba in late November. The poultry handled in
Gulfport was purchased by Alimport and supplied by Louis Dreyfus Corporation.
Alimport, also known as Empresa Cubana Importadora de Alimentos, has purchased some $30 million worth of food from U.S. companies in hopes of providing relief for Cubans impacted by Hurricane Michelle, which caused widespread destruction as it passed over the island Nov. 4. Because of Crowley's longstanding history of service to the Caribbean and the fact that the company was the first U.S. carrier to meet all federal requirements to ship licensed cargo to Cuba earlier this year, Alimport invited Crowley to bid on the transportation contract. Crowley senior vice president and general manager Rinus Schepen and Mexico service vice president Jay Brickman concluded the historic agreement over the Thanksgiving holiday in Havana.
"We were pleased to have had the opportunity to participate in this historic transaction and to be the first U.S. company to resume shipments directly
from the United States to Cuba," said Tom Crowley, Jr., Chairman, President and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation. "Although nothing is assured, we are hopeful that these initial, direct ship
ments of poultry from the United States to Cuba will result in ongoing direct vessel service for licensed
Earlier this year, Crowley became the first U.S. carrier to obtain a license from the Office
of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C., to provide regularly scheduled common carrier services for licensed cargo from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.
The opportunity to participate in the trade was made possible by the "Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000" signed into law on October 28, 2000 by William J. Clinton, President of the United States of
America. The "Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000,"
authorizes OFAC to license the transport of agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices or other products directly from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.
Crowley began regularly scheduled common carrier service to Cuba in April. Although no direct vessel calls had been made prior to Dec. 16, Crowley has transported loads for customers to Mexico and then via third-party carriers
to Cuba on Crowley bills of lading.