Posted on February 25, 2021
The Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore reported a rise in container volumes and general cargo towards the end of 2020 as it begins to rebound from the effects of the global pandemic
In December 2020, container volumes at the Port of Baltimore were up 12% compared to low points during the early stages of the pandemic, and up 6% year-on-year compared to December 2019, the third consecutive month of year-on-year gains.
Compared to low points in June 2020, roll on/roll off equipment was up 35.8%, general cargo was up 29% and container volumes were up 11.9%. General cargo figures for December 2020 represented an 8% increase over December 2019.
In early February, the port saw a record number of container moves from a single ship at the Seagirt Marine Terminal, where stevedores conducted 6,000 container moves from 13,092-TEU Maersk Edinburgh – the most ever from a single ship in the port’s 315-year history.
Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) executive director William P Doyle said “E-commerce continues to be a driving factor in our recovery. The Port of Baltimore is surrounded by many of the region’s distribution, fulfilment and sorting centres. With consumers making more online purchases during the pandemic, that’s resulting in strong container gains for us.”
The recent container volume increases include 13 ad-hoc ship calls since mid-July totalling nearly 18,000 TEU containers. Ad hoc ships are vessels that were diverted to Baltimore that were not on a regularly scheduled service.
Ships such as Maersk Edinburgh can call on the Port of Baltimore because of infrastructure that accommodates some of the largest vessels in the world. As part of the port’s public-private partnership with Ports America Chesapeake, construction of a second, 50-ft deep berth at the Seagirt Marine Terminal is moving forward.
An additional berth will allow the port to handle two supersized ships simultaneously. As part of that project, four additional neo-Panamax cranes are scheduled to arrive in July and will be operational later this year.
MDOT secretary Greg Slater said “The partnership we forged back in 2009 with Ports America continues to pay dividends with greater capacity and outstanding growth in jobs and revenue.”
“The infrastructure investments we and our partners made at the port over the past decade have proven critical in maintaining Maryland’s supply chain during the pandemic. Looking ahead, we know the investments we’re making now will lay the foundation for the state’s continued economic recovery and vitality.”
The port also believes its growing container business accentuates the need for the Howard Street Tunnel expansion project in Baltimore, which will accommodate double-stacked rail cars to move cargo to and from the port. That project will benefit from public-private investment between the federal government, Maryland, CSX and others.