Levant Line switches to Baltimore

February 02, 1991|By John H. Gormley Jr.

Levant Line, a Greek-owned steamship company providing service to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, has decided to move its port of call in the mid-Atlantic area from Richmond, Va., to Baltimore.

"It's nice to see a steamship line leave Virginia and come to Baltimore," Brendan W. O'Malley, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, said yesterday. "We're delighted. We trust it's the beginning of a trend."

David Alouf, executive vice president of Constellation Navigation, general agents for Levant Line, said he expects the first ship to call on Baltimore within 45 days.

Levant chose Baltimore, Mr. Alouf said, because the line had outgrown facilities in Richmond. Moreover, the line hopes to attract more Midwestern business to Baltimore.

The ships will call at Dundalk Marine Terminal. The proximity of Dundalk to the port's new Seagirt rail yard was part of the attraction of Baltimore, said Anthony A. Chiarello, assistant vice president of Universal Maritime Service Corp., which will provide stevedoring services to Levant Line in Baltimore.

The rail connections at Dundalk are one of the principal reasons Levant thinks it can increase its penetration of Midwestern markets, Mr. Alouf said.

Levant has two ships that can carry both containers and general cargo. The line expects to add a third ship soon. That will give the line the capability to provide service from Baltimore once every 20 days.

Mr. Chiarello estimates that the line will handle about 80,000 tons of cargo a year, which would rank Levant among the smaller lines in the port.

Despite its size, however, Levant represents a heartening success for the port, which in recent years has been steadily losing lines and business to the Virginia ports of Hampton Roads at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

The selection of Baltimore was also a boost for Universal, which began offering stevedoring services in Baltimore in October. "This is of tremendous importance to us," Mr. Chiarello said, noting that Levant means new business for the port and work for Baltimore's longshoremen.

On this side of the Atlantic, Levant's ships will call at New York, Baltimore and Charleston. In the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the ships will call at ports in Greece, Turkey, Romania and the Soviet Union.

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