BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Maryland will soon welcome one of the world’s largest container shipping companies to the Port of Baltimore. It’s because the state gave a private company the rights to run the terminal and make some big changes.

And as Mike Schuh explains, that investment is paying off in the form of jobs, and a lot of them.

Soon a whole new class of cargo ships will arrive in Baltimore. Currently, many container ships are limited to the size of the Panama Canal.

But when a new larger channel opens in Panama, ships with one and a half times their capacity will set sail. Only Norfolk has the ability for those behemoths to dock.

The cranes in Baltimore? Too little. The water depth near the seawall? Too shallow.

So, two years ago, Ports America brokered a deal with the state. It will pay for improvements in return for a 50-year lease.

“So all in all, we’ve invested a quarter of a billion dollars,” Christopher Lee of Highstar/Ports America, said.
Schuh: “Billion? With a ‘B.'”
Lee: “Billion with a ‘B.'”

With that kind of money at stake, they needed get those big boats to come to Seagirt.

Friday, it was announced the big boats are on their way.

“We’re very happy to have our friends from Hapag-Lloyd here,” James White of the Maryland Port Administration said.

Right now, two shipping companies use the docks with the addition of a German line. Three of the five largest shippers in the world will use Seagirt, and that means one thing.

“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” U.S. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger said.

Two hundred and fifty at the port, 600 overall.

“You know, in these tough economic times, the port continues to be a star. So we’re really excited today,” Beverly Swaim-Staley, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, said.

When the ships come, they will be full of containers from Germany and Europe.

What this deal means is that up to 30,000 containers will now be coming to the Port of Baltimore, and the company that runs this port says it’s just the beginning.

“We’re going to take this port and really make it thrive and prosper,” Lee said.

It’s been 20 years since that German shipping line regularly stopped here. They first shipped cargo across the Atlantic Ocean to Baltimore in 1868.


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