BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A $40 million investment is starting to pay back at the Port of Baltimore. After six months of installation and training, four immense cranes are up and running.

Alex DeMetrick reports they could outrun the competition.

There are none bigger on the East Coast. Four gigantic cranes were designed for one purpose.

“To be able to accommodate some of the largest ships in the world,” said Maryland Port Administration spokesman Richard Scher.

It took one to ship the cranes from China last summer and with an expanded Panama Canal opening next year, even larger vessels are coming. To stay competitive, cranes must be able to stretch out over 400 feet. To do that, they have to stand 40 stories high, dwarfing the men who assembled and began operating them this month. Containers today represent only a fraction of what’s coming on the super-sized ships of the near future.

“And that’s great for the economy. It means more cargo coming in and more jobs,” Scher said.

“Improved jobs for people is definitely what we need to get the economy where it needs to be,” said one trucker.

But more than the cranes give Baltimore’s port a leg up. There’s also geography.

“Because we’re further inland up the Chesapeake Bay, we’re actually closer to the Midwest population markets than other East Coast ports, so talking in terms of the port industry, that’s a huge benefit,” Scher said.

So is being able to lift up to 187,000 pounds, about the weight of a space shuttle, and the ability to move containers faster on and off ships.

“It’s a cost-saver for shippers and it’s also a time saver for shipping their goods,” Scher said.

The only other East Coast port with similar cranes is Norfolk. For New York and New Jersey to compete, they must first raise the Bayonne Bridge by 64 feet to allow larger ships in.


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