Befitting Seagirt, 1st ship is also late

September 11, 1990|By John H. Gormley Jr.

Seagirt Marine Terminal, already a year and a half behind schedule, will have to wait one more day for its first ship.

State officials, including the governor, had intended to hold a celebration yesterday to mark the arrival of the Rafaela S., a Mediterranean Shipping Co. containership that will be the first to unload cargo at Seagirt.

However, the Rafaela S. developed engine trouble on the way to Baltimore from New York. Instead of entering Baltimore harbor ,, early yesterday morning, the ship was not expected to arrive in the port until late last night.

"It's hard to celebrate without a ship," Michael Angelos, general manager of Maryland International Terminals, said yesterday.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Secretary of Transportation Richard H. Trainor and Brendan W. "Bud" O'Malley, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, had expected to attend the celebration scheduled for 10 a.m. yesterday.

The festivities have been rescheduled for this morning, Mr. Angelos said.

A spokesman for the governor said yesterday that he is planning to attend the rescheduled ceremony, which now will occur on primary election day in Maryland.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. was the first steamship line to sign a Seagirt lease.

(Evergreen Marine Corp. subsequently became the second line to sign a lease. Evergreen's first ship is expected at Seagirt in early October.)

On its way from New York, the Rafaela S. had been scheduled to enter Delaware Bay, take the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, then continue south down the Chesapeake Bay to Baltimore.

But the mechanical problems raised fears that the ship might become stranded in the canal and block its use by other ships using that short cut between Baltimore and ports to the north. As a result, the Rafaela was forced to steam down the Atlantic coast, enter the Chesapeake at its mouth and then make the 150-mile trip up the bay to Baltimore.

Capt. E. Lorenzo di Casagrande, who is in charge of Mediterranean's Baltimore operations, said the engine problems were repaired while the ship was at sea. The ship is running at full speed again and should have no problem reaching Baltimore in plenty of time for today's events, he said.

L "It was not a major problem. We are in good shape," he said.

Seagirt, the state's $250 million state-of-the-art terminal, opened week ago when the terminal's workers began accepting export cargo that was to be loaded onto the Rafaela S. and other Mediterranean ships. But Seagirt's new cranes, which are at the heart of the terminal's hopes for greatly increased productivity, have yet to be used to load and unload a containership.

Seagirt has seven cranes. Three of them are dual-hoist machines that permit two containers to be moved at once.

The Rafaela, which can carry 1,200 20-foot long containers, is not large and will be unloaded by Seagirt's conventional cranes.

The dual cranes probably will get their first test when Evergreen brings in one of its bigger ships next month.

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