Polish line doesn't plan to move to Va.

May 15, 1991|By John H. Gormley Jr.

Polish Ocean Lines, one of the most important steamship lines in the port of Baltimore, has no plans to shift vessels to Hampton Roads, Va., now that the line has received permission to call there.

Until last week, 12 militarily sensitive ports in the United States, including Hampton Roads, were off limits to vessels from Eastern bloc nations. On May 8, President Bush lifted that prohibition on ships from Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

Krzysztof Tyc, the senior representative for POL in North America, said yesterday that while he welcomed the decision, he did not expect the line to shift ships from Baltimore to Hampton Roads. "I can't say there's any desire to rework the present sailing schedule," he said. POL provides weekly service from Baltimore.

Since the ports were off-limits, the line has never conducted an in-depth market study of Hampton Roads. It will take a closer look now, Mr. Tyc said. "There's really no pressure on us to take a decision. We're doing studies because that's prudent."

POL has a four-year lease with the Maryland Port Administration that will expire in 1993. Mr. Tyc said that POL has been happy with the volume of export cargo it has been handling in Baltimore and is looking for ways to increase its import traffic. "Baltimore has the opportunity to keep Polish Ocean Lines as long as they work to make Baltimore attractive," he said.

The decision to open the ports of Hampton Roads to Polish ships could have a more significant impact on POL's sister company, Polish Steamship Co., which operates bulk carriers. Bulk carriers handle such commodities as grain and coal. Unlike liner companies, which call at limited ports on a strict schedule, bulk operators may send their ships wherever they can obtain a cargo.

The opening of Hampton Roads will free Polish Steamship's vessels to compete for cargo there, greatly improving the line's competitive posture.

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