Maersk's Message to Baltimore

November 09, 1991

The Port of Baltimore has had its share of blows over the past few years but now the momentum is swinging the other way, with Baltimore on the offensive. Maersk Line, the port's most important customer, gave Baltimore a huge vote of confidence this week when it signed a 10-year lease to continue doing business here. The port's long-term strategy seems to be working.

Key to the port's success is the state of the art Seagirt Marine Terminal. Already, one of the world's largest steamship companies, Orient Overseas Container Line, has decided to return to Baltimore to take advantage of Seagirt's ultra-modern facilities speeding cargo handling. And Seagirt's growing popularity has given port officials a chance to achieve another long-cherished goal: revamping the hodge-podge configuration of the Dundalk Marine Terminal.

Port officials are carving out two private terminals inside the 570-acre Dundalk site, one of which will be run by Maersk's stevedoring subsidiary. This will permit Maersk to centralize the use of workers, equipment and space for the numerous steamship lines that will operate from the private terminal. Vastly improved security will now be possible as will large-scale private investments to create computerized gates and to achieve economies of scale and speed not possible today at Dundalk.

Another big steamshipper, Atlantic Coast Line, also has signed on to the private terminal concept at the Dundalk Marine Terminal. With Maersk now on board, future growth could be enormous. Maersk is regarded within the industry as one of the savviest operators. The Danish company's optimistic assessment of the Baltimore situation could persuade others to give this port another try.

Baltimore remains ideally situated for anyone shipping cargo to or from the Midwest. Its new dockside rail yard at Seagirt and the reconfigured Dundalk terminal give shippers enhanced cost-efficiencies that outweigh the long trip up the Chesapeake. Another strong plus is the turnaround by the longshoremen's local, which has pitched in to cut costs for shippers through accelerated movement of cargo. That kind of spirit could lead to more cargo and jobs coming Baltimore's way.

When OOCL, ACL and Maersk -- all heavy hitters in the international maritime business -- commit to using Baltimore's port, it sends a message to other shippers. This port offers the best facilities around, improved rail service, great geographic location and a work force eager to prove it is second to none. This is a combination that could prove hard to resist in the cost-conscious '90s.

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