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Port of Baltimore Set to Reopen After Key Bridge Collapse Disruption

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Port of Baltimore Set to Reopen After Key Bridge Collapse Disruption

The full federal channel to the Port of Baltimore is scheduled to reopen on June 7, ending an 11-week halt in vessel traffic following the collapse of the Key Bridge, CBS News reports.

Read also: MV Dali Refloated, Port of Baltimore Set to Resume Full Operations

Salvage efforts have successfully cleared the 50-foot deep, 700-foot wide Fort McHenry Channel, allowing all vessels to access the port. The restoration work is expected to be completed no later than June 10.

“We are not taking our foot off the gas,” said Estee S. Pinchasin, USACE, Baltimore District commander. “We are pushing forward as quickly and safely as possible to reach 700 feet and ensuring we remove all wreckage to prevent any impact to future navigation.”

On March 26, the 948-foot containership Dali struck the Key Bridge, causing its collapse and resulting in the deaths of six construction workers. Debris from the collapse had restricted maritime travel through the key gateway.

Unified Command used explosives last month to break off large portions of the bridge. Cuts and precise incisions were made in the steel for placing explosives, which were then covered with heavy-duty tape. The controlled detonation shattered the truss into pieces, sending them into the Patapsco River.

Enough bridge debris was cleared from the Dali to refloat it a week after the controlled detonation. The Dali returned to the Port of Baltimore two hours after its departure from the bridge, escorted by several tugboats.

Following the removal of the Dali, workers resumed clearing the wreckage from the federal channel. They continued removing debris from the riverbed by digging out the bottom cord of the remaining truss and cutting it into sections for safe removal. At the time of the ship’s removal, only about one-third of the truss was visible above the water, with the rest buried in the mud on the riverbed.

On May 31, CBS News reported that salvage crews successfully lifted a 470-short-tonne steel section of the Key Bridge truss, which had been buried in the river midline and holding the Dali in place for weeks.

“These final lifts are an important next step to re-opening the full 700-foot width of the navigation channel,” Unified Command said.

In May 2024, Carl Bentzel, Commissioner of the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), wrote to President Joe Biden seeking financial aid for staff and businesses affected by the recent events at the Port of Baltimore.

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MV Dali Refloated, Port of Baltimore Set to Resume Full Operations

The container ship MV Dali, which has obstructed the Port of Baltimore for nearly two months, is being refloated this morning, with Maersk reopening some service bookings related to the incident.

Read also: Maersk Resumes Direct Services to Baltimore Amid Port Updates

The 9,000 TEU container ship allided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, halting vessel transits through the port. For almost two months, the ship remained stuck, with only four temporary navigation channels allowing limited vessel movement, leaving many large containerships unable to transit.

This morning, operations began to refloat and move the MV Dali from its position to a local marine terminal. According to the Port of Baltimore administration, “Optimum conditions call for the transit of the MV Dali to commence at high tide, predicted to be Monday at 5:24 am. The vessel will be prepared at 2 am, allowing the MV Dali to catch the peak high tide for a controlled transit.” Preparations started roughly 18 hours ago, at midday on Sunday. Once refloated, up to five tugboats will escort the MV Dali on its 2.5-mile journey to a marine terminal where entry is strictly controlled. The entire sequence is expected to take a minimum of 21 hours, with the port authority planning to release a time-lapse montage upon completion.

Meanwhile, Maersk has reopened bookings for its AGAS and AMEX services. The AMEX service, which operates between the US East Coast and South Africa, is expected to call at Baltimore on June 1. The AGAS service, running from the US East Coast to South America, is expected to call on June 11. “AGAS and AMEX are open to bookings now because those vessels can use the Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel, which is not accessible for vessels utilized currently on Transpacific or Transatlantic service,” Maersk explained.

However, bookings for Maersk’s Transatlantic services and Baltimore exports on TP12 remain closed. The Danish carrier assured that bookings would reopen once more information on channel conditions for these services becomes available. “Our ability to call Baltimore will ultimately rely on the refloating timeline and the captain of the port officially opening the port and/or the fourth alternative channel that was previously closed,” Maersk stated. It also noted that if the timeline prevents calls at Baltimore, vessels may be redirected to another US East Coast port.

Despite this positive development, the seafarers aboard the MV Dali have been stuck on the vessel since the allision, unable to disembark due to visa issues and lacking communication with the outside world, including their families.


Baltimore Bridge Collapse: Significant Impact on Local Port and Economy, Limited Effect on US Economy Overall

The recent incident involving the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, which was struck by a container ship, is expected to have a significant impact on the local port and shipping operations, while its effect on the overall US economy remains relatively limited. The bridge collapse occurred in the early hours of Tuesday, the 26th of March’24, plunging cars into the river below and leading to the suspension of traffic at the port until further notice, according to Maryland transportation authorities.

“Collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore is a stark reminder of the fragility of our infrastructure and the critical need for resilience in the face of unexpected events.” said Christian Roeloffs, cofounder and CEO of Container xChange, an online global container logistics platform, based in Hamburg, Germany.

“As we navigate the aftermath, we are reminded that the container logistics industry centers around the critical need for robust risk management and resilience in supply chain operations. It highlights the importance of contingency planning, diversified routing options, and the integration of real-time tracking and analytics to mitigate the impacts of unforeseen events. This incident serves as a reminder that infrastructure vulnerabilities can lead to disruptions, and being prepared with flexible, adaptive strategies is essential for maintaining continuity in the face of challenges.” Roeloffs added.

While the full extent of the impact is yet to be determined, the collision is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the Port of Baltimore and its role in the regional and national economy.

The container vessel “DALI,” was operated by Synergy Group and time-chartered by Maersk. Maersk has confirmed that no crew or personnel were onboard the vessel at the time of the incident.

Areas of Implications to look for in the coming weeks:

  • Supply Chain Disruptions: The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge could significantly disrupt the flow of goods in and out of the Port of Baltimore, particularly automobiles and crude oil. The port is a crucial gateway for specialized cargo and bulk handling, serving as a key link in many supply chains. Delays in cargo movement could lead to inventory shortages, affecting businesses that rely on timely deliveries, like the automotive industry which requires assemblies coming from different parts of the world.
  • Transportation Costs: Companies should prepare to face higher transportation costs as they are forced to seek alternative routes to bypass the affected area. These additional costs could result in increased prices for goods, impacting both businesses and consumers.
  • Regional Impact: The Port of Baltimore is a vital economic hub for the region, supporting thousands of jobs and businesses. The disruption caused by the bridge collapse could have a ripple effect on the local economy, leading to job losses, reduced business activity, and potentially lower consumer spending.
  • Consumer Impact: End consumers could potentially experience delays and price increases for certain products as a result of the bridge collapse, as it could take weeks, if not months, to resume operations at the port. Products that rely on timely delivery, such as perishable goods or time-sensitive materials, could be particularly affected.

 Impact on Container Movement

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge has led to the suspension of traffic at the Port of Baltimore, a key gateway for container shipping. With more than 40 ships remaining inside the port and at least 30 others signalling their destination as Baltimore, the incident has disrupted the movement of containers. As Baltimore is one of the smallest container ports on the Northeastern seaboard, handling 265,000 containers in the fourth quarter of last year, the flow of containers may be redirected to larger ports such as the Port of New York and New Jersey. This redirection could result in increased congestion and delays at these ports, affecting the timely delivery of goods and potentially leading to inventory shortages.

Impact on Port Operations

The harbor is one of the busiest in the country and an important hub for shipping on the US east coast, especially in transporting road vehicles. It also handles farming, construction machinery, and coal, according to a Maryland government website. Port traffic was suspended until further notice following the bridge collapse.

The Port of Baltimore serves as a vital link for raw materials and manufactured goods, facilitating trade into and out of Maryland, the mid-Atlantic region, and the Midwest United States. It ranks at or near the top of all U.S. ports in handling farm and construction machinery, automobiles, imported forest products, imported sugar, imported gypsum, and exported coal. The port’s infrastructure, including a 50-foot-deep channel and large cranes, allows it to accommodate massive containerships, such as the Evergreen Ever Max, which arrived at Seagirt Marine Terminal in mid-August 2023.

While the magnitude of the impact is yet to be determined, the disruption in traffic and operations at the port could lead to significant economic losses. The port generates nearly $3.3 billion in total personal income and supports over 15,000 direct jobs, with an additional 139,000 jobs connected to port work. The suspension of port activities could result in financial hardships for businesses and individuals dependent on port-related activities.

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Maryland’s Port Of Baltimore Adds New ‘Around The World’ Container Service

Service with Mediterranean Shipping Company Includes Asia-Panama Canal and U.S.-Suez Canal Rotation

Maryland’s Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore has been added to an existing international container service with the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) that will include port visits between Asia and the Panama Canal as well as the U.S. and the Suez Canal.  The MSC Santana service will now include port calls in Baltimore and Boston, as well as Da Chan Bay Port in China.  The first sailing under the new schedule will leave the Port of Haiphong in Vietnam onboard the MSC Ellen on July 15, 2022.

The full rotation of the Santana service will be: Haiphong – Da Chan Bay (China) – Shanghai (China) – Busan (South Korea) – Panama Canal – Charleston – Baltimore – New York – Boston – Suez Canal – Singapore – Haiphong.  This new service for the Port of Baltimore follows a recently announced new container service for Baltimore on ZIM Shipping Lines as well as another service on MSC through the Indian Subcontinent and Mediterranean.

There is a need for utilization of more gateways such as Baltimore to land cargo in the United States.  Import/export demand for containerized cargo has substantially increased over the past year. With that demand, port congestion is an all-time high. Baltimore is a prime gateway for goods heading to the ecommerce market and for cargo sent to the Midwest via rail. Maryland’s Port has handled more than 50 “ad hoc” ship calls during the recovery stages of the pandemic – vessels diverted to Baltimore that were not on a regularly scheduled service call.

Maryland’s Port of Baltimore has begun to put into operation four additional supersized, Neo-Panamax container cranes.  The cranes are part of a $166 million investment made by Ports America Chesapeake (PAC) at the Seagirt Marine Terminal and are serving the new second deep-water berth.  Having an additional deep berth allows the Port to serve supersized cargo ships simultaneously.

The new Seagirt berth and cranes complements the CSX-owned Howard Street Tunnel expansion project which will allow for double-stacked container rail cars, clearing a longtime hurdle for the Port and giving the East Coast seamless double-stack capacity from Maine to Florida. The project involves clearance improvements in the 127-year-old tunnel and at 21 other locations between Baltimore and Philadelphia. With the tunnel expansion project, Baltimore will be able to send double stacked containers by rail into the Ohio Valley and onto Chicago.

The Howard Street Tunnel project got underway in November and is scheduled to be completed in 2025.   The Howard Street Tunnel project benefits from public-private investment from the federal government, Maryland, CSX, and others, and is expected to increase the Port’s business by about 160,000 containers annually. It will also generate about 6,550 construction jobs and an additional 7,300 jobs from the increased business.

Maryland’s Port of Baltimore generates about 15,300 direct jobs, with nearly 140,000 jobs overall linked to Port activities. The Port ranks first among the nation’s ports for volume of autos and light trucks, roll on/roll off heavy farm and construction machinery, and imported gypsum. It ranks 11th among major U.S. ports for foreign cargo handled and ninth for total foreign cargo value.

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The Port of Baltimore continues expansion efforts following the completion of successful dredging operations for a second 50-foot-deep container berth at its Seagirt Marine Terminal on April 20. 

This project—supported by a partnership between the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) and Ports America Chesapeake—started in January and will allow the simultaneous handling of two ultra-large ships. 

The 50-foot berth paired with the Howard Street Terminal expansion project will not only increase business opportunities but also grow the region’s workforce, adding more value to the $122.1 million investment. Of this amount, $105 million is from Ports America, $10.5 million from the state, and $6.6 million in federal funding.

The second, deep-container berth project was spearheaded and completed by Corman Kokosing of Annapolis Junction with the help of two dredges—Koko V and Koko VI. Additionally, more than 465,000 cubic yards of sediment were successfully removed by the company’s SN3 unloader barge for reuse in land restoration and more. With this new addition, the port announced the addition of four neo-Panamax cranes to arrive and be operational later this year at Seagirt.

“The Port of Baltimore and its skilled workforce have always played a key role in supporting Maryland’s economy and keeping the state’s supply chain open and reliable,” MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “Now, together with our public and private partners, we’re seeing the future of the port take shape. Additional berth capacity and the ability to move cargo on double-stacked rail cars with the Howard Street Tunnel expansion will attract new and expanded business to the port, boost revenue, grow jobs and lead the way in Maryland’s economic recovery.”

The expansion of the region’s Howard Street Terminal aims to improve capacity along the East Coast’s rail lines from Baltimore, pending the final approval by the National Environmental Policy Act. Construction at the 126-year-old terminal is projected to begin at the end of 2021 and is supported by public-private investments between the federal government, Maryland, CSX and others. These developments continue supporting the region’s workforce while increasing state tax revenue and funds for the Transportation Trust Fund.

“We’re moving forward in the Port of Baltimore,” said MDOT MPA Executive Director William P. Doyle. “We appreciate the on-time and on-budget dredging work completed by Maryland-based Corman Kokosing, a great U.S.-flag dredging and marine construction operator. This summer, we’ll welcome four new neo-Panamax cranes and later this year, we’ll break ground on the Howard Street Tunnel project, giving the port and CSX double-stack capability north, south and all the way out to Chicago. These are very exciting times for the Port of Baltimore.”



The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on global shipping. One of the categories hit worst was roll-on/roll-off (Ro/Ro). These ships, which revolutionized the transport of automotive and military vehicles, often found themselves with nowhere to go as automakers shut down their plants in the first half of 2020 to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Figures compiled by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)—and published in its report COVID-19 and Maritime Transport: Impact and Responses—show just how bleak the Ro/Ro sector got, with the ships stopping in five percent fewer ports in the first quarter of 2020 than the same quarter a year earlier, and nearly 25 percent in the second quarter.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted on Ro/Ro services,” states the UNCTAD report. “Since March 2020, port calls by Ro/Ro ships worldwide declined by 22.8 percent compared with the same period in 2019. One in four ship calls has been suspended. Total calls by Ro/Ro ships since the beginning of 2020 declined by 13.8 percent as compared with the same period in 2019.”

While those declines were bad, it’s also true that vehicle traffic rebounded in the latter half of the year. We looked at 10 U.S. ports that have Ro/Ro capability to see how bad the situation got before they recovered—and how they did it. All of these ports instituted special COVID-19 protocols at the start of the pandemic, and all have remained operational throughout the crisis.


Port officials say that in the spring of 2020, the closure of so many automakers dramatically lowered the number of automobiles entering Colonel’s Island Terminal. May 2020 saw the worst volume decrease—down 77 percent compared to May 2019.

The rebound started in June, though port officials say Ro/Ro traffic that month was still 38 percent below June 2019. July was better, in that it was only down 11 percent. By August, Ro/Ro traffic was actually up 9 percent, though September was flat. The rest of the year saw Ro/Ro traffic up 32 percent over the previous year; November down 16 percent, and December was 27 percent ahead of the same month in 2019.

For the year, Colonel’s Island terminal served 435 vessel calls in 2020, compared to 466 in 2019. Put another way, in 2020 the Port of Brunswick handled 587,395 units of Ro/Ro cargo, a decrease of 25,506 (4 percent) compared to 2019.


The Port of Baltimore ranks “first among the nation’s ports for volume of autos and light trucks, roll on/roll off heavy farm and construction machinery, and imported gypsum,” according to the Maryland Port Administration. After sustained decreases in Ro/Ro traffic throughout the spring, December totals showed a triple-digit increase—the sixth consecutive month of increased compared to the first months of the pandemic, according to a Feb. 3, 2021, Maryland Port Administration news release. What’s more, December figures for general cargo, containers and Ro/Ro represent year-over-year monthly gains versus December of the previous year.

“Throughout the pandemic, the Port of Baltimore has been a barometer of Maryland’s economic recovery, and the latest figures give us great optimism for the new year,” Governor Larry Hogan said in the news release. “The port’s healthy rebound is an indicator of increased consumer demand, and we’ve proven we have the talented workforce and the infrastructure to answer that demand.”

By December 2020, 67,063 tons of Ro/Ro traffic moved through the Port of Baltimore—up nearly 36 percent from June. In fact, December was so good that Ro/Ro traffic was up 1 percent from the same month in 2019.


In the spring of 2020, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo shut down auto plants in the South due to COVID-19. This cut Ro/Ro traffic into Charleston by a third, according to 

But by August, the numbers started to recover. “Among the encouraging signs that port officials highlighted was the highest July on record for vehicle movement through the port,” according to Aug. 20, 2020, post in The Maritime Executive. “The strength in the Ro/Ro sector they believe signifies a return to normalcy at automotive plants throughout South Carolina and the Southeast.”

Port officials are so encouraged that they see a stronger rebound throughout 2021.

“We are encouraged by some signs of an initial rebound in our container and automotive volumes, as well as an increase in imports and a decline in blanked sailings,” S.C. Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said in an Aug. 20, 2020, Maritime Executive post. “However, a more substantial recovery is dependent on the duration and intensity of the economic impacts from the pandemic, and ultimately, on a vaccine.”


Like all U.S. ports, JAXPORT saw Ro/Ro traffic hit hard by the coronavirus. But the rebound in the summer and fall was strong. In fact, the last quarter of calendar year 2020 was “the second busiest quarter for vehicles in the port’s history,” according to a Feb. 11, 2021 JAXPORT news release.

Given that it’s one of the nation’s most diversified ports, and that means it’s “well-positioned to continue to see increased volumes to satisfy growing consumer demand in nearby markets throughout the Southeast, including South Florida, Orlando and the rest of the I-4 corridor,” said Alberto Cabrera, JAXPORT’s director of Automotive Accounts.

“An increase in U.S. military vehicle movements at the port helped to offset the industry-wide decline in commercial shipments due to the temporary shutdown of auto manufacturing over the summer caused by the coronavirus,” said Cabrera.

He adds that 2021 should be a “robust year” for emerging vehicle technology. “As manufacturers continue to rebound from the pandemic shutdowns, we will see the release of many new models with the advanced technology, including autonomous driving, steering assistance, and forward collision prevention, that consumers have been demanding,” Cabrera said. 


In late 2019, PhilaPort opened a giant new auto terminal and Vehicle Processing Center (VPC). “The VPC at Southport is capable of servicing 200 cars per hour and fully processing over 1,000 cars daily,” a PhilaPort news release said at the time. A few months later, the pandemic hit. After that, Ro/Ro traffic “was down, but not as much as the other Ro/Ro ports,” a PhilaPort spokesman said.

The port instituted new COVID-19 protocols, including closing the main administration offices in the early months of the pandemic. But by late September, the port reopened the offices. Today, the port is close to operating as usual—though with some adjustments. 

“This port handles almost 1 million tons of forest products in a normal year,” said Penn Warehousing and Distribution’s Tom Mutz in a Feb. 5, 2021, PhilaPort news release. “But COVID and new modes of consumer behavior have resulted in even greater amounts of forest products entering our port.”


Port officials made clear that COVID-19 had very little impact on the operations at the Port of Galveston. That being said, the temporary closure of many auto plants did cause a significant slowdown in Ro/Ro traffic for much of 2020. You can see it in the numbers provided by port officials: The port moved 487,371 vehicles in 2019, but just 314,790 in 2020.

That said, port officials noted that other traffic at the port is strong. In fact, they report that the port saw 25 cargo vessels in January 2021—up considerably from the 19 that arrived in pre-pandemic January 2020. 


For the Port of Hueneme, May and June of 2020 were the worst months of the pandemic for Ro/Ro traffic. During those months, Ro/Ro ship traffic dwindled almost to zero. Recovery finally came in the last quarter of 2020, which saw four to five Ro/Ro ships coming into port every week. 

But the damage had been done. In 2019, Ro/Ro ships moved 346,288 autos in and out of the Port of Hueneme, but just 282,164 in 2020—an 18.5 percent drop in a year. Overall tonnage dropped at the port 1.8 percent due to the pandemic. But so far, officials say Ro/Ro volume is still showing a strong recovery and is now 1 percent higher than the same period last year.

Port officials also say their own internal operations and communications plan worked very well in dealing with COVID-19 cases. In fact, they say the port saw just 19 reported COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. Currently, the port is working with local officials to prioritize the vaccinations cycles for their workforce.


For the first half of 2020, the Port of Virginia saw a significant drop in trade—due both to the COVID-19 pandemic and trade tariffs. But port officials are proud that throughout the crisis, the port has not lost a single-day of productivity. Despite the drop in traffic, the port instituted no layoffs or cuts in pay and benefits. Officials also noted that since the port was processing less cargo, efficiencies increased—dwell-time for rail imports, berth productivity and turn-times for motor carriers. The port also used the slow period to accelerate maintenance schedules for equipment and make operational tweaks.

By the end of the year, the Port of Virginia was actually setting records: The port processed more than 260,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in December, making it the best volume on record for that month. The port also set its all-time monthly volume record in November 2020 by handling more than 280,000 TEUs.

Today, Port of Virginia officials describe their Ro/Ro capabilities as “strong.” They expect a rebound in both automobiles and traditional Ro-Ro cargo in 2021, which they say they can accommodate at either their Newport News Marine Terminal or the Portsmouth Marine Terminal.


Long lines of shipping traffic into the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are familiar to everyone within five miles of the Southern California coastline. Even in 2020, the traffic was considerable.

“Initially, the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the volume of containers flowing through the port, but the latter half of the year was very active as shippers worked to satisfy pent-up demand for goods,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “The Port of Long Beach had its best year on record in 2020, with 8,113,315 TEUs moved, up 6.3 percent from 2019. The port exceeded the previous annual record set in 2018 by 22,292 TEUs.”

But the same can’t be said for Ro/Ro ships. In fact, Ro/Ro data from the Port of Long Beach shows abysmal numbers: 302,811 vehicles in 2019, but just 239,135 in 2020.

To ensure that 2021 is good for all categories of shipping, Cordero is focusing on protecting his workforce.

“The nation’s waterfront workers have kept this country’s supply chain functioning since Day One of the pandemic, and they are at high risk,” Cordero said. “Prioritizing the waterfront workers for vaccination is of paramount importance, both for their safety, and for the sake of the economy. We are continuing to work with health officials to vaccinate essential workers, to maintain the fluidity of cargo movement.”


The Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), the operating entity behind the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, is the fourth largest container gateway in the United Sates. And the COVID-19 pandemic hit the NWSA hard across the board.

“Total container volumes in March were down approximately 21 percent as compared to March of 2019,” said John Wolfe, the NWSA CEO, according to an April 15, 2020, story in American Shipper. “That brings our year-to-date first-quarter decline to 15.4 percent.”

The situation at the ports was still bad, even into October.

“The economic fallout from COVID-19 continues to disrupt supply chains across the country and around the world,” stated an Oct 20, 2020, NWSA news release. “The NWSA gateway saw 59 blank sailings through September, surpassing the total number of canceled sailings in 2019.”

As with most ports in the U.S., by the end of the year cargo traffic had rebounded or even exceeded 2019 levels at the NWSA ports—except for auto volume. That stood at 156,205 units, down 18.6 percent from the previous year, according to a Jan. 20, 2021, NWSA news release.


Port of Baltimore Announces $1.8 Million Grant Towards Diesel Emissions Reduction Act

Older diesel-powered equipment including forklifts, yard tractors, other heavy cargo machinery, and 44 dray trucks at the Port of Baltimore will soon be replaced with newer and cleaner equipment options as part of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). The Port of Baltimore announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contributed $1.8 million grant towards the initiative this week in conjunction with the EPA’s Clean Diesel Program.

“This EPA grant will help us continue cleaning the air around the Port of Baltimore,” said Governor Larry Hogan.  “Working with our federal partners, the Port is showing how to be a responsible steward of the environment and, at the same time, break cargo records, grow business and expand jobs for Marylanders.”

“We are proud of the Port’s continued leadership on cleaner and greener solutions and appreciate the support of EPA and Congress,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “These investments are important for Maryland’s steady progress on clean air, public health and climate change.”

Beyond the DERA, the grant provides dual-support for the Port of Baltimore’s Diesel Equipment Upgrade Program. The ten-plus year program has been successful in replacing a total of more than 200 dray trucks, 110 pieces of cargo-handling equipment and repowered 10 marine engines and retrofitted 16 locomotive engines.  Reductions resulting from this initiative include 3,304 tons of nitrogen oxide, 922 tons of carbon monoxide, 165 tons of particulate matter and 141 tons of hydrocarbons.

“Through initiatives like our Diesel Equipment Upgrade Program and EPA’s Clean Diesel Program, we have reduced pollutants in the air around the Port by more than 10,000 tons in the past 12 years,” said David Thomas, acting executive director of the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA).

Agility & Speed Essential for East Coast Port Growth

When the Evergreen Triton arrived at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore on May 24, it became the largest container ship ever to visit Maryland. The vessel that can handle 14,424 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers surpassed the 11,000-TEU Gunde Maersk, which as of the previous October had been the largest container ship to ever visit Maryland. The Gunde Maersk had one upped a 9,700-TEU Mediterranean Shipping Co. vessel, which in 2017 became the Maryland record-setter.

Exactly 30 days before the Evergreen Triton milestone, the Jacksonville Port Authority set a record when the ZIM vessel Kota Pekarang became the largest container ship to ever call JAXPORT. The 11,923-TEU vessel transited the Panama Canal from Northeast Asia before reaching the U.S. East Coast and discharging and loading cargo at JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal on April 24. Less than a month before that—on March 18, to be precise—the 11,000-TEU ZIM vessel Cape Sounio had become the JAXPORT record-holder when it docked at Blount Island.

To say that the biggest of the big ships have been coming fast and furious to select East Coast ports lately would be an understatement, not that any of these calls caught anyone off guard. “Thanks to Maryland’s investment in a 50-foot berth, every year we are seeing larger and larger container ships choosing the Port of Baltimore,” Governor Larry Hogan said upon the Evergreen Triton arrival. Likewise,  JAXPORT, which is Florida’s No. 1 container port complex by volume, is deepening its harbor to keep up with the biggest-of-the-big-ship demand.

According to recently released rankings of America’s top 30 ports by TEUs in 2018, the Port of Los Angeles and its Southern California sister the Port of Long Beach hold the top two spots respectively, just as they did in 2017. But LA’s TEU growth of 5.40 percent in 2018 from 2017, as well as Long Beach’s 6.80 percent jump over the same period, were below the 7.80 percent combined average of the nation’s top 30 ports. Meanwhile, though the Port of New York and New Jersey and Port of Savannah (Georgia) maintained their 2017 slots as the country’s third and fourth top ports in 2018 respectively, those East Coast ports saw TEU year-to-year growth rise by 12.80 percent and 10.80 percent.

“New York came closer than ever to overtaking Long Beach as the second largest port for imports after the raising of the Bayonne Bridge and investments by Maersk in new cranes allowed a 12.8 percent rise in shipments, leaving it with a 14.5 percent share of all seaborne imports to the United States,” writes Patrick Burnson, executive editor with Logistics Management, in a piece crunching the top port numbers. Burnson goes on to credit the widening of the Panama Canal in 2016—which led to East Coast ports deepening their channels and erecting massive cranes to accommodate Post-Panamax vessels—with the Eastern Seaboard’s continued rise.

Savannah’s upgrades are credited with drawing shipping business away from others in the East. Among those who have taken notice is Seaboard Marine, which in May launched a new direct, all-water service that will have both refrigerated and dry container service to and from the Port of Savannah and North Central America, including Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

A different public-private partnership is credited with spurring the growth enjoyed by the state of Maryland, whose Department of Transportation points to its Maryland Port Administration and Ports America Chesapeake. So far that pact has brought about a 50-foot deep channel and 50-foot deep berth to accommodate the mega-ships traveling through the Panama Canal and past other ports before pulling into the Old Line State, which may be compelled to change its nickname to the “Old and New Shipping Line State.”

As Bayard Hogans, vice president of Ports America Chesapeake, said upon Triton’s arrival, “The partnership between the Port of Baltimore, Ports America Chesapeake and Evergreen will continue to allow the world’s largest container ships to deliver the goods and commodities that power America’s economy through Maryland.”

A different partnership is paying dividends at another East Coast port. The rearrangement of services prompted by container alliances forged overseas has been cited as a factor in the Port of Miami experiencing 20.80 percent TEU growth in 2018 compared to a year before.

There are 1 billion reasons PortMiami shows up on the international shipping radar—namely $1 billion in infrastructure projects that have created an on-dock intermodal rail system, dredged the deep-water channel to welcome Post-Panamax vessels and carved a direct-access tunnel leading to the interstate highway system. And don’t forget PortMiami Foreign Trade Zone 281. PortMiami’s cargo and container ship operations, coupled with its world-famous luxury cruise line industry, are credited with generating $43 billion in economic activity countywide and statewide.

The gulf side of Florida is also getting attention from abroad, as proven by French container shipping giant CMA CGM having launched service to Port Tampa Bay in late May. The new Pacific Express 3 service rotation is: Singapore; Vung Tau; Hong Kong; Shekou; Ningbo; Shanghai; Busan; Panama Canal; Houston; Mobile; New Orleans; Tampa; Miami; and back to Singapore.

Port Tampa Bay, which was at the ready with two Post-Panamax cranes to complement three existing gantry cranes, is currently investing in new facilities to further diversify its service and implementing a phased build-out plan to quadruple capacity over the next few years.

Another move that began outside the U.S. that is expected to help East Coast ports is the London-based International Maritime Organization imposing its low-sulfur fuel rule that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. The resulting number crunching spurred by the higher fuel costs is expected to ultimately draw ships away from the Suez Canal in favor of the shorter route from Asia to the American East Coast through the Panama Canal. This is despite the Central American waterway’s transit fees being higher than what the Suez Canal Authority charges.

As the larger ports along the Eastern Seaboard make the billion-dollar moves aimed at luring the world’s largest container vessels, smaller operations are also finding success filling niches. Take, for instance, the Connecticut Port Authority, whose main port at New London is about halfway between New York and Boston. Though the CPA was only formed in 2016, it has already filled a niche when it comes to wind energy. In yet another public-private partnership, the CPA; Gateway, which operates terminals in New Haven; Eversource, the regional energy provider previously known as Northeast Utilities; and Denmark-based Ørsted are the players in the Bay State Wind joint venture. Among Bay State Wind’s upcoming projects is the $93 million redevelopment of State Pier in New London.

Port of Baltimore Reports Record-Breaking March

Following a very successful 2018, the state-owned public marine terminals at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore reported record-setting numbers in March including most general cargo tons in a month (1,018,274), most 20-foot containers in a month (95,82), best March on record for cars and light trucks (59,052), and the highest amount roll on/roll off cargo tons since June 2012 (96,535). The cumulative tonnage amount beat records set in May 2017 as well as surpassing the latest container record from July 2018.

Adding to the success in 2018, the Port reported handling $59.7 billion in cargo value while both state-owned public and privately-owned marine terminals were responsible for 43 million tons of international cargo. Furthermore, state-owned public terminals reported the number of TEU containers exceeded the one million mark for the first time with 1,023,152 TEU containers in 2018.

The Port of Baltimore continues its leading position in the state’s economy as it’s responsible for approximately 15,330 direct jobs while providing a salary 9.5 percent higher than Maryland’s annual wage, according to The 2017 Economic Impact of the Port of Baltimore in Maryland report. Additionally, the report states The Port is responsible for roughly $3.3 billion in personal wages and salaries and $2.6 billion in business revenues.

“Month after month, the Port of Baltimore continues to demonstrate its importance to Maryland’s economy,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “These new records reflect the industry’s confidence in our Port and its workforce, further proving that Maryland is open for business.” 

Source: Port of Baltimore