A Business section article Jan. 6 reported that the Swiss line Mediterranean Shipping Co. made Baltimore the first port of call for its North Atlantic service, bypassing Hampton Roads, Va. The story did not make clear that Virginia remains on the shipper's port rotation.
The Sun regrets the errors.
One of the port of Baltimore's biggest customers has reduced or dropped service at two competing ports to bring more business up the Chesapeake Bay, a rare reversal in the world of East Coast containerized-cargo shipping.
Port officials said yesterday that Mediterranean Shipping Co. is projected to increase business in Baltimore by 20 percent annually by diverting container shipments that had been going to Hampton Roads, Va., and New York.
Baltimore became the first port of call for the Swiss shipping line's North Atlantic service on Oct. 31. It dropped Hampton Roads and canceled one of two calls at New York, according to F. Brooks Royster III, director of the Maryland Port Administration, which oversees Baltimore's public marine terminals.
"This is a very good thing for the port of Baltimore because it says to the trade that Mediterranean Shipping Co. recognizes the port of Baltimore as the gateway to the Midwest," he said.
Last year, the head of Mediterranean's Baltimore operation, upset by the departure in February of the well-regarded port director James J. White, had threatened not to expand business in Baltimore. White left after a public spat with officials in the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
Capt. E. Lorenzo Di Casagrande was critical of what he said was administration meddling at the port. He later said he was comfortable with Royster's appointment as White's successor.
"I think we've assuaged MSC's concerns, and we're solid partners and going forward," Royster said yesterday.
Mediterranean did not return a phone call, but the port says it expects the company to continue growing in Baltimore.
Port officials often refer to the port as the most western East Coast port, a marketing position that has worked with shippers of niche cargo who want to keep their awkward or bulky products on ships longer. But in the container business that hauls everything from toys to auto parts, Baltimore has more often lost out to ports on the ocean.
Mediterranean came to Baltimore 20 years ago and is the port's largest container shipping line. It's been increasing its presence here since 1990, signing a 10-year pact in 2001 partially because of the terminal's lack of congestion.
In 2004, the line's traffic reached the 100,000-container mark. The new service will bring about 100 more containers per vessel call, the port said.
The port reported that it handled about 590,000 of the 20-foot containers in fiscal 2005, a number that has not expanded much in the last decade.
The port recently bought cranes that could stack containers higher at the Seagirt Marine Terminal, effectively doubling the amount of storage space, as part of its effort to boost container business. Still, it controlled less than 4 percent of the market share of the biggest East Coast container ports in 2004, according to the Journal of Commerce.
The port is among the largest handlers of automobiles, paper products and farm and construction firstname.lastname@example.org