The new service will be part of the line’s Gulf of Mexico Express, with calls in the UK, France, Belgium and Germany, before it travels to the USA calling first at Baltimore then onto Veracruz and Altamira in Mexico, along with Houston, New Orleans and Charleston.
In November 2009 the Maryland Port Administration and Ports America Chesapeake signed a 50-year agreement, under which Ports America would handle operations at the Seagirt Marine Terminal, as well as investing in the construction of a new 50-foot (15 metre) deep-water container berth and four super post-Panamax quay cranes. The new terminal was designed to capture new business from the Panama Canal expansion.
With wharf construction completed, the berth is ahead of its original schedule and will be finished in August this year, two years before the completion of Canal expansion. At that point it is expected that a larger number of ships, including mega-sized vessels, will travel to US East Coast ports that have the necessary channel and berth depth. This will reduce the time and cost for goods currently being shipped through West Coast ports and across country on rail.
“This new berth, great rail access and our partnership with Ports America are key reasons that Hapag-Lloyd chose to make the Port of Baltimore its first US port of call for their new Gulf of Mexico Express service, one of only two US East Coast ports to have both a 50-foot channel and 50-foot berth,” said Maryland Governor, Martin O’Malley.
“This new call offers importers in Baltimore and the surrounding catchment area a direct call with a fast transit time of nine days from Germany. The Baltimore call also allows rationalisation with other services to maximise direct discharge, with the associated savings and improved service levels to our customers,” said Hapag-Lloyd senior vice president, Area Southeast, Stuart Rattray.