Maersk Line will resume its South American service out of Baltimore, meaning the return of a container ship a week that had been shifted to Hampton Roads, Va., Baltimore's primary competitor in the mid-Atlantic region.
The resumption of the weekly service stems from Maersk's decision to enter a vessel-sharing agreement with Transroll/Sea-Land to provide more frequent service to South America.
The new service, which begins in mid-June, will feature two weekly departures from the United States to the East Coast of South America, with one service calling at Baltimore and the other calling at Hampton Roads.
In January, Maersk, one of the largest shipping lines in Baltimore, canceled its weekly South American service here, saying there wasn't enough time to call at all the ports on its schedule. The loss of 52 ships a year -- and some 7,000 containers -- meant less work for dockworkers and other port employees.
"We didn't want to leave, but the conditions and congestion in South America made us realize we couldn't call at every port. To maximize transit time, we eliminated some ports," said David L. Bindler, general manager for Maersk Line in Baltimore.
The new partnership with Transroll-Sealand will allow Maersk to operate 11 vessels weekly and add ports to its schedule.
"We've improved the speed, the reliability and added port calls," Mr. Bindler said. He predicted that the new service here would lure more cargo to Baltimore from Midwest shippers, boosting the total Maersk South American cargo here to 10,000 containers a year.
The Maersk ships will travel from Baltimore to Charleston, S.C., Port Everglades, Fla., Rio de Janeiro and several other South American ports and then return to Newark, N.J.
In addition, Maersk plans to continue the barge service it began in January to move some cargo from Baltimore to Norfolk after it scrapped its South America ship calls here. Those barges will continue to handle freight destined for Argentina and Puerto Rico, Mr. Bindler said.