Port of Baltimore Secures New Indian Subcontinent and Mediterranean Container Service

| August 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) press release: 

Working together through our public-private partnership, the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) and Ports America Chesapeake have secured a new Indian Subcontinent and Mediterranean container service for the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore. The Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) Indus 2 service will include an eight-ship string of 8,500 Twenty-foot Equivalent (TEU) container capacity vessels that will travel to Baltimore and seven other ports around the world. The first ship in this new service will begin loading cargo in India August 30.

“The international maritime industry continues to show its confidence in the Port of Baltimore and its growing container capabilities,” Governor Larry Hogan said. “The new and expanded business we’re seeing today is a direct result of the investments we’ve made at the Port, and will have a tremendous positive impact on job growth and Maryland’s overall economic recovery.”

The MSC Indus 2 service rotation will begin with the MSC Michaela. The service will start its journey in India and visit two ports in that country – the Port of Mundra in the Kutch district of Gujarat and the Port of Nhava Sheva. From there, ships will transit the Suez Canal to the Port of Gioia Tauro in Southern Italy, then the Port of Sines in Portugal. Ships will then visit ports in Norfolk, Va.; Baltimore, Md.; Miami, Fla.; and Freeport, Grand Bahama, then return to India.

“The Port of Baltimore is attracting new business because the industry recognizes we have the facilities, logistics and workforce to bring goods to market reliably and efficiently,” MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “This new service from Mediterranean Shipping Co. is an important part of the Port’s bright future.”

“MSC is a great partner and a top container service provider, and we’re very pleased to continue our long working relationship with them with this new Indian subcontinent-Mediterranean service,” said MDOT MPA Executive Director William P. Doyle. “Baltimore is well positioned on the ecommerce and intermodal side of the logistics chain – we’ll be loading exports for the backhaul as well too.”

There is a need for utilization of more gateways like Baltimore to land cargo in the United States.  Import/export demand for containerized cargo has substantially increased over the past year and with that, port congestion is an all-time high.  Baltimore is a prime gateway for containers filled with goods heading to the ecommerce market and for cargo sent to the Midwest via rail. The Port has served 23 “ad hoc” ships over the past year – vessels diverted to Baltimore that were not on a regularly scheduled service call – totaling more than 35,000 TEU’s.

“The addition of the new Indian subcontinent (INDUS 2) service further enhances the Port of Baltimore and Ports America Chesapeake’s position as a key gateway for U.S. imports and exports,” said Ports America Chesapeake Vice President Bayard Hogans. “This service will provide our customers with new routings and a more efficient supply chain.”

“We’re very excited about the new MSC Indus 2 service,” said Scott Cowan, president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333. “New business means more work opportunities for the men and women of ILA 333. Our labor force takes great pride in their jobs and in working at the Port of Baltimore.”

The new MSC business follows another new container service at the Port in Baltimore announced in June – a new Southeast Asia/Vietnam and China service with the Maersk Line, which will bring its first vessel to Baltimore in early September.

The Port’s container business is getting a lift with the ongoing project to expand capacity to serve ultra-large ships. Dredging is complete for a second, 50-foot-deep berth at the Seagirt Marine Terminal, and four additional Neo-Panamax cranes are expected to arrive during the first half of September and be operational by the end of the year. Baltimore is one of a few East Coast ports with the ability to handle some of the world’s largest vessels, and the new deep berth will allow two of these massive ships to be serviced at the same time.

Complementing the new Seagirt berth are plans to expand Baltimore’s Howard Street Tunnel, which received final federal environment approval in June under the National Environmental Policy Act. The expanded tunnel 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 tunnel and at 22 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 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

Business at the Port of Baltimore has recovered strongly since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which greatly impacted the international maritime industry. In June, major cargos at the Port’s state-owned, public marine terminals were up significantly year-over-year, with autos up 76%, roll on/roll off farm and construction machinery up 54% and containers up 19% compared to June 2020. Total general cargo was up 30%.

The Port 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 10th for total foreign cargo value.

Photo from Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA)

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News releases from various sources around South Baltimore.
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