China line to add ships to port here

October 12, 1994|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Sun Staff Writer

China Ocean Shipping Co., which this year gave the Port of Baltimore its first direct link to the Far East, now plans to expand its service here to once a week.

Starting in November, a Cosco vessel will call at the port's Seagirt Marine Terminal each week instead of three times a month, according to people close to the company.

The new service will mean an additional 16 vessels a year, which will increase work for dockworkers who unload the ships, bay pilots who guide the huge vessels to the terminals, and other businesses dependent on the port's business, such as freight forwarders.

One of the world's largest shipping companies, Cosco currently is sending 36 vessels a year here but decided to boost the frequency largely because shippers were seeking the weekly service. No comment was available from Cosco officials.

Cosco first began offering service here in February, shipping cargo in containers between Baltimore and the Far East by way of the Suez Canal.

While several shipping lines offered direct service from the Far East to Baltimore, none had provided service in the opposite direction. Previously, cargo to the Far East was loaded onto barges and transported to either the port of New York or to Norfolk, where the goods were transferred to ships. The procedure was costly, prompting shippers to use ports elsewhere to ship their products to the Far East.

Export business to the Far East has been increasingly important because it is the fastest-growing area economically in the world. Last year, China's gross national product was up 13 percent, compared with less than 3 percent in the United States, while Southeast Asia's rose 7 percent.

"We see China and the Far East as a booming market, and we intend to work to assure Cosco's continued success at Seagirt for many years to come," said Michael P. Angelos, executive director of the Maryland Port Adminstration.

Port officials are hopeful that Cosco's growing presence here would prompt other shipping lines serving the Far East to use Baltimore.

Cosco, owned by the Chinese government, is based in Beijing and has a fleet of more than 50 vessels. The company, which has North American headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., also serves the East Coast ports of Charleston, S.C., and New York.

Its service Baltimore with Xingang and Dalian, China, as well as Hong Kong and Singapore.

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