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A Maersk Line ship docks in Baltimore in 2012. (Flickr / Maersk Line / “Baltimore docking on 24 November 2012” / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Port of Baltimore lands a big load

World’s biggest container shipper back

With light blue-gray containers stacked behind them, elected officials from Maryland and the city officially welcomed the largest container shipping company in the world, Maersk Line, to the Port of Baltimore.

“The global shipping industry is watching Baltimore. I think they got Governor Hogan’s message that Maryland is open for business,” said Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. “Our great port is a critical economic asset for Maryland, and today proved that.”

The company officially started serving Baltimore in March and it plans to bring 31,000 more containers through the port per year.

Its addition gives the port more momentum and potential for increased international business as the Panama Canal expansion project is completed in the next year, Rutherford said.

Richard Scher, director of communications for the Port of Baltimore, said that the port’s recent infrastructure improvements, such as its new super-sized cranes and 50-foot deep container berth, have increased its ability to cater to the needs of some of the biggest ships in the world as it moves about 40 containers per hour per crane.

“These international container shipping lines are certainly getting wind of what the Port of Baltimore has been doing to elevate its status as a major container port,” Scher said.

Generating more than 14,000 direct jobs and about 108,000 associated jobs throughout Maryland, the Port of Baltimore is one of the state’s top economic engines, Scher said. The addition of Maersk is expected to increase both revenue and job opportunities for the city and state.

“This port delivers for Baltimore and for our region,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “We’ve been a part of a great partnership to provide jobs, to provide opportunities, and to make a wave for the future of the city. We need it now more than ever.”

“I don’t know if there’s a stronger asset that we have in the City of Baltimore than the port,” Rawlings-Blake said.

The first Maersk liner departed from the city’s port in 1928 headed for the Far East, said David Zimmerman, vice president of North American sales for Maersk. It was last in Baltimore in 1996, and this new relationship marks the first time since then that Maersk vessels are coming to the Port of Baltimore.

“This is a homecoming for us — we’re delighted to be back,” said Zimmerman, who was presented with a Pride of Baltimore ship model from the port and state to celebrate the company’s new business deal with Maryland.

The increased amount of goods coming through the port will not affect the prices of the goods for state consumers, Scher said.

The addition of Maersk means the port is now served by all four of the largest container shipping firms in the world. Other major international shipping companies that use the port include CMACGM, MSC and Evergreen.

Staff writer Adam Bednar contributed to this story.

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