Stevedoring company Ceres Terminals Inc. is expanding its cargo operations at the port of Baltimore, leasing an additional 12 acres at Dundalk Marine Terminal from the Maryland Port Administration, state officials said Thursday.
Ceres now leases 5 acres at Dundalk from the port administration. The company will be handling roll-on, roll-off cargo business — typically construction and farm equipment — for Hoegh Autoliners, which is moving its European Service vessels to the Dundalk terminal. Hoegh had previously delivered cargo to the port's Fairfield terminal.
Ceres will continue handling the so-called "ro/ro" and other cargo for "K" Lines' South America/Mid East Service vessels and NYK Line's South America/Europe/Middle East Service vessels, port officials said.
The agreement between the state and Ceres is expected to strengthen the port's U.S. market share for roll-on/roll-off cargo, said James J. White, the port administration's executive director, in a statement. The port already handles more such cargo than any other U.S. port and brought in 514,000 tons of the heavy equipment last year.
"This should be more business for the port," said Richard Scher, a port administration spokesman. "It's going to allow us to grow that [roll-on/roll-off] business and grow that market."
Port officials said it is too early to estimate how much business growth the arrangement with Ceres would generate for the port. Ceres offers both stevedoring and marine terminal operations services for ocean carriers and port authorities, and is one of the largest stevedoring and marine terminal operators in North America.
"Ceres handles many of the world's top roll-on/roll-off shipping lines, and we welcome their increased presence at the port," White said.
The land that Ceres is leasing from the state at Dundalk, one of six publicly operated terminals at the port, is a portion of the land that became available to the port administration as part of a public-private partnership announced last fall between the port and terminal operator Ports America Chesapeake.
Under that agreement, Ports America is leasing the Seagirt Marine Terminal from the port administration and operating the terminal. As part of the deal, Ports America transferred 65 acres of its land at Dundalk to the port administration.