Baltic Shipping to increase service through Baltimore

December 01, 1992|By Journal of Commerce

CHICAGO -- Russia's Baltic Shipping Co. will step up its service through Baltimore this winter as a result of its decision not to use Albany, N.Y., for Great Lakes-area cargoes once the St. Lawrence Seaway closes temporarily later this month.

The line instead will route its regional roll-on, roll-off shipments, like farm equipment and motor vehicles, through Baltimore. Baltic Lines already provides some service to Baltimore.

"We certainly see it as another positive development for the port of Baltimore," said Ray Feldman, a spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration. "We have a strong relationship with Baltic and we have a strong reputation as a ro-ro facility."

Mr. Feldman said any additional business with Baltic would likely enhance the port's future once trade opens with Eastern European countries.

Closing the St. Lawrence Seaway will end lake access to the Atlantic Ocean only temporarily, however. Baltic is expected to be back on the Great Lakes with expanded roll-on service as well as its break-bulk ships when they reopen next spring, according to Jerry File, president of Trans Trade Inc. in Rolling Meadows, Ill., near Chicago.

Trans Trade is Baltic's coordinating agent for service from the Great Lakes to Europe and to St. Petersburg, Russia.

In the meantime, however, the new winter system will put many nTC of Baltic's eastbound cargoes originating in the U.S. Midwest on rail cars to Baltimore the next few months. Midwest shippers use the company's lake vessels most of the year.

Baltic ships will call in Baltimore and New York about every three weeks, Mr. File said.

Baltic also maintains two services out of Montreal -- a weekly northern Europe service and a separate service direct to St. Petersburg. And Baltic serves the ports of Houston and New Orleans.

Mr. File said officials at Albany "wanted us to come back [this winter], and economically we could not do it."

He explained that agents "could not get the cargo deviated that way" and that "if you don't have enough tonnage, you can't get the vessels there."

Frank Keane, the Albany port's general manager, said Baltic called there only three times last winter, and besides the lack of outbound cargo, it endured some weather and scheduling delays.

He said the port "pretty much broke even" last winter on its overall operations, as other accounts helped pick up the slack, but he said Baltic's business was still "a good part of the winter season" last year.

One cargo Baltic sought through Albany was logs to Europe, and the port spent nearly $25,000 preparing a chemical fumigation shed. Mr. Keane said the Baltic log business did not take off, but that Albany has picked up some log shipments to the Far East that were handled at the facility.

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