Evergreen expands its port business Baltimore is named mid-Atlantic stop on South American run

12,000 containers a year

Addition of service savored at time when other lines have left

Shipping

March 27, 1998|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,SUN STAFF

Evergreen Marine Corp. has chosen Baltimore as its mid-Atlantic port for service to South America, marking the first new weekly container business for the port in more than two years.

The latest service -- which will bring an additional 12,000 containers a year here -- is not expected to produce any new jobs but will mean extra work for longshoremen who load and unload the huge steel boxes known as containers, bay pilots who guide the ships into port, tugboat operators and others.

While the new service hardly reverses the downward trend in container business at the port, it is seen as an encouraging sign by port officials.

"Obviously, growing the container side of our business is the hardest task we face," said Linda Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Port Administration, which operates the state's five marine terminals. "This shows we still are in the container game and there are opportunities for Baltimore."

In recent years, revolutionary changes in the maritime industry have prompted carriers to consolidate their cargo and call on fewer ports. As a result, Baltimore has lost several major companies, including Maersk Line. Evergreen is now the port's largest customer and one of the few major lines serving the modern Seagirt Marine Terminal, where it recently signed a five-year lease.

With the decline in container business, port officials have focused on attracting more break bulk cargo, such as automobiles. While some critics have suggested that the port has abandoned its efforts to lure new container business, port officials say they have instead been targeting specific segments, such as South America service. A number of other carriers also serve South America from Baltimore.

Evergreen issued a statement yesterday saying that its decision to enter the highly competitive South American market follows three years of study. The ships will call at New York, Baltimore, Savannah, Miami and Panama and at ports in Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. The Taiwan-based company now offers weekly inbound service to Baltimore from the Far East, with service continuing to Northern Europe. The company handles 40,000 RTC containers a year.

Pub Date: 3/27/98

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