BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The first vessel traveling a new shipping route that connects Baltimore to Southeast Asia is set to arrive at the Port of Baltimore this week.

Under the new service, known as the as the TP20 Loop, container ships from Danish company Maersk Line will originate in the Port of Vung Tao, Vietnam and load cargo in the ports of Ningbo-Zhoushan, China and Shanghai, China. They will then travel through the Panama Canal and arrive at two U.S. ports, Norfolk and Baltimore.

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This is the first direct ocean service to Southeast Asia for the Port of Baltimore, according to local officials.

In all, the service will deploy up to 13 vessels that can each carry 4,500-plus containers.

“The arrival of the first ship in the new Maersk Line service is a milestone for the Port of Baltimore, and another example of our growing international reputation for stellar service and outstanding access to markets across America,” Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Greg Slater said in a statement. “The Port is continuing to show the power of its workforce and its infrastructure to fuel Maryland’s economy.”

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The first ship to arrive is called the Xiamen.

Dredging was completed in April to ultimately allow the port to hold two ultra-large ships simultaneously by the end of 2021. Later this week, the port is expected to receive four new cranes that will boost capacity; they are expected to be operational by the end of the year.

Additionally, the Howard Street Tunnel Project received federal approval in June to begin expanding the 126-year-old tunnel to accommodate double-stacked container trains.

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“We welcome the Xiamen, the first ship in the new Maersk TP20 service to the Port of Baltimore,” MDOT Maryland Port Administration Executive Director William P. Doyle. “This new ocean service is helping us prime the pump in advance of the Howard Street Tunnel project’s double stack rail to the Midwest. In addition, it allows ocean carriers, non-vessel operating common carriers, and freight forwarders to market the Baltimore region’s e-commerce centers to Southeast Asia manufacturers. This is also a result of the great public-private partnership that we have with Ports America Chesapeake — capitalizing on the substantial investments made over the past several years.”

CBS Baltimore Staff