Freight News, Sea

Port of Baltimore Continues Positive Cargo Gains

[ October 7, 2020   //   ]

The state-owned, public marine terminals of the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore continue to rebound from recent low points during the COVID-19 pandemic. New figures for August show significant increases for autos and light trucks, containers, roll on/roll off farm and construction machinery and general cargo compared to May and June when volumes were at their lowest.

“The Port of Baltimore breaks records year after year, and has uniquely positioned our state to handle critical links in our nation’s supply chain,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “These new numbers are further proof that the Port is playing a pivotal role in Maryland’s ongoing COVID-19 recovery.”


While cargo volumes overall remain down year-over-year, August numbers show a significant jump in several categories compared to June, when volumes hit a low point for container volumes and general cargo and roll on/foll off tonnage. Compared to June, August numbers are:
• General cargo (842,882 tons) +14.9%
• Containers (51,429 boxes) +8.5%
• Roll on/roll off (54,419 tons) +10.2%

For automobiles and light trucks arriving at Port of Baltimore terminals, the low point was in May. Compared to that May low, August numbers are significantly higher:
• Autos/Light Trucks (39,964 units) +126.5%

“We’re seeing cargo volumes continue to improve and other positive trends during the very challenging COVID-19 time,” said MDOT Maryland Port Administration Executive Director William P. Doyle. “We have had increases in our project cargo business, while our container gains reflect the increasing popularity of e-commerce. This is all good news, though we understand this remains an unpredictable maritime trade environment.”

The August performance included a new record at the Port, as longshore workers at the Seagirt Marine Terminal handled 5,320 container moves from the massive vessel Maersk Edinburgh. It was the largest number of moves for a single ship in the Port’s 314-year history.

“Throughout the COVID-19 State of Emergency, the Port has been a critical link in Maryland’s supply chain,” said MDOT Secretary Greg Slater. “The upswing we’re seeing tells us industry is eager to bring goods to the Port of Baltimore and to Maryland consumers. Our Port has the capacity and the right team in place to handle this volume and the massive ships carrying these goods.”

As Maryland continues its recovery, the Port of Baltimore is seeing new business and increased business from existing customers. Examples include:
• General Electric – The Port is handling vessels carrying 15 heat recovery steam generators for General Electric. Future vessels are due to arrive in October and November. This includes heavy machinery that moves directly ship to the Port’s on-dock rail network.
• Siemens – The Port is handling massive 385,000-pound transformers. These are also being discharged direct from ship to rail.
• Elliott Turbo – 90,000-pound transformers are being handled for export.
• UPM – Finland-based UPM, one the Port’s top forest product customers, reported that August was their best month to date for 2020 at its Balterm facility at the Port’s South Locust Point Marine Terminal. UPM new business through the Port of Baltimore includes an estimated 40,000 tons in rolled paper annually from Germany.

In other recent good news from the Port of Baltimore:
• the federal government announced a $10 million grant to MDOT MPA as part of a project to improve infrastructure at the Dundalk Marine Terminal against severe rain events and possible future sea-level rise and climate change; and
• the Port and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have signed an agreement for a $3 million study of a loop channel at the Seagirt Marine Terminal to explore ways to improve access and maneuverability for the massive ships that visit the Port of Baltimore.

In addition, as part of the Port’s public-private partnership (P3) with partner Ports America Chesapeake, work toward a second, 50-foot deep berth at the Seagirt Marine Terminal is moving forward. Dredging will begin late this year and four new additional Neo-Panamax cranes are scheduled to arrive in April and be operational next summer. A direct result of the 2009 P3 agreement, the second-deep berth will allow the Port to handle two supersized ships simultaneously.

The growing container business also accentuates the need for the Howard Street Tunnel expansion project in Baltimore, which will accommodate the use of double-stacked rail cars to move cargo from the Port. That project is benefitting from public-private investment from the state, CSX and others.