Navieras shipping line, one of the port of Baltimore's 10 largest container lines, plans to discontinue service here next month.
The Puerto Rican line is the only container service operating between Baltimore and Puerto Rico. Its departure will end two decades of service here. The number of workers at the company's office in Canton will be reduced from 19 to three, the company said.
"We determined our interests were best served by minimizing the number of ports and concentrating vessel activity in a smaller number of ports," said Edward O'Donnell, executive vice president of the Edison, N.J., line.
The company also has decided to end its port calls at Charleston, S.C., next month and New Orleans later this year. It will continue serving New York and Jacksonville, Fla. Cargo from Baltimore will be moved by truck or train to New York, where the company is increasing its service to twice weekly.
"This should not be seen as a reflection on the port of Baltimore," Mr. O'Donnell said. "Strategically, the company needs to position itself in the marketplace and become more competitive with other lines that offer more frequent service."
But for Baltimore, the company's decision means the loss of 15,000 containers a year. That means fewer hours of work for longshoremen and others who handle cargo at the port.
Formerly known as PRIMMI (Puerto Rico Marine Management Inc.), Navieras is the leading steamship service for all trade between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico. It also offers service throughout the Caribbean islands.
Navieras began operating in Baltimore in 1974. It is one of a handful of steamship lines that operate out of the port's state-of-the-art Seagirt Marine Terminal, which was opened in 1990.