Puerto Rico Marine Management Inc. is about to become the third tenant at the port of Baltimore's high-tech Seagirt Marine Terminal.
Several lines are close to signing leases at Seagirt, but "PRMMI will be the first one in," Brendan W. "Bud" O'Malley, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, said yesterday.
Signing PRMMI to a lease could represent a milestone for the $250 million Seagirt project.
"This is solid evidence that Seagirt is working and working well," Mr. O'Malley said.
The MPA has been marketing its new terminal as "the most productive 265 acres of land in the shipping business." Two other lines -- Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) and Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp. -- began using Seagirt last fall, before the terminal had been put to the test. So while trying to decide whether to use Seagirt, PRMMI has had the luxury of seeing the terminal operate for almost eight months.
While PRMMI has not officially announced it will sign a Seagirt lease, Mr. O'Malley said, only the details remain to be worked out. Roberta Greening, a spokeswoman for the line, confirmed that PRMMI's lawyers are working on the wording of the agreement, but she refused to provide any further details.
Seagirt was built as a "load center," a large terminal whose efficiencies would enable lines to drop other ports and consolidate operations in Baltimore. The hope was that Seagirt would mean large increases in cargo volume for the port. So far Seagirt has not attracted any new lines to the port.
MSC moved its operations in Baltimore from South Locust Point to Seagirt, while Evergreen moved to Seagirt from Dundalk. PRMMI, if it signs a lease, would also be shifting its business from Dundalk.
Although none of the three lines are new to the port, the efficiencies of Seagirt will permit them to increase the amount of cargo they handle in Baltimore, Mr. O'Malley said.
PRMMI was ranked sixth among steamship lines in the amount of cargo handled in Baltimore last year. It schedules one ship a week in Baltimore.
Seagirt has a computerized gate for expediting the movement of cargo in and out of the terminal. It is also equipped with seven high-speed cranes, three of them dual-hoist machines capable of moving two containers at a time.