NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The Port of Davisville is one of the top 10 auto importers in North America.
On Monday, Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee headed to Quonset to get a glimpse of the operation, something 12 News got to see first-hand just last week.
A few times a week, ships carrying thousands of vehicles dock at the port, offloading hundreds of brand-new vehicles at a time. They are then processed by a company called North Atlantic Distribution (NORAD) before being sent to dealerships across the Northeast.
McKee commemorated the completion of a new berth, which allows the port to accommodate larger ships. The project was funded by bonds approved by Rhode Islanders and is part of a multi-million-dollar renovation that’s underway.
McKee also toured the construction at the port’s Pier 2 modernization project, which will allow Davisville to be a staging ground for future offshore wind projects. This will bring more jobs to the site, in addition to the 1,700 people who already work there, officials said.
“The port here is a great asset for jobs and commerce. Beyond the automobiles, we’re focused on the new offshore wind projects that are going to be happening off of New England, and great opportunities for additional jobs related to that,” said Steven King, managing director at Quonset Development Corporation.
The Siem Cicero car carrier ship was docked at the port for McKee to witness the offloading of Volkswagens arriving from Germany. The Olympian Highway was also docked and unloading Hondas imported from Mexico.
“We handle about 300,000 cars a year,” NORAD Director of Business Development Matthew Martyn said. “Obviously that varies from year to year.”
The port broke its auto import record year after year, until 2020, when the pandemic shut down manufacturing.
A shortage in computer chips that are affecting the automobile industry is also having an impact at Quonset. King says their numbers are down 15% compared to previous years but he expects it to be straightened out in the coming months.
Quonset business park is home to 210 companies, offering more than 12,000 jobs.