Port of Baltimore Hit Cargo Record Last Year

Future Projects Promise Additional Growth
Evergreen Ever Max
The Evergreen Ever Max at Port of Baltimore on Aug. 19, 2023. (Port of Baltimore via Facebook)

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The Port of Baltimore hit records for handling cargo last year, state officials said Feb. 23, showing a rebound from global supply chain difficulties and disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both state-owned public marine terminals and private terminals handled a record 52.3 million tons of foreign cargo worth $80 billion in 2023, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said in a news release.

The port, which continues to rank first in the nation in several categories, hit new highs in foreign cargo volume and value, while also boosting the amount of roll-on/roll-off farm and construction equipment to a record 1.3 million tons, from 1 million tons more than a decade ago in 2012.

Moore called the port one of the state’s largest economic generators and pledged continued investment to create jobs and boost the economy.

“We must continue our work to make Maryland more competitive by investing in our greatest assets, including our world-class port,” Moore said in the release.

Baltimore’s facility ranks first among the nation’s ports for volume of autos and light trucks, roll-on/roll-off heavy farm and construction machinery, imported sugar and imported gypsum. The port generates about 15,300 direct jobs. Baltimore’s port handled more cars and light trucks last year, a total of 847,158, than any other U.S. port for the 13th straight year.

It currently ranks ninth among major U.S. ports for both the amount and value of foreign cargo handled.

Records were reached last year in other areas, including handling of containers and general cargo, officials said.

The facility handled a record 1.1 million 20-foot equivalent containers, up from 1 million in pre-pandemic 2019, and a record 11.7 million tons of general cargo, up from 11.3 million tons in 2022.

Last year’s total foreign cargo beat the previous record volume of 44.2 million tons in pre-pandemic 2019 and a record value of $74.3 billion in 2022.

The Baltimore-area’s highway and rail network, labor force and regional supply chain all contribute to the strength of the port, Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld said.

Last year, ZIM Shipping Lines, one of the world’s largest container shipping companies, doubled its service in Maryland from biweekly to weekly calls and was able to bring in supersized vessels. The largest containership to ever enter the port, Evergreen Ever Max, also called last year. It has the capacity to carry more than 15,000 20-foot equivalent containers.

Passenger cruise business was brisk too, with the port hitting its third-highest ever passenger total, the most since 2012, with 444,000 people taking trips. Norwegian Cruise Line began a new fall and winter schedule last year, offering sailings to New England, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.

Future projects promise additional growth in container business as well.

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The CSX-owned Howard Street Tunnel expansion project, which will allow for double-stacked container rail cars, is slated for completion in 2027. It involves expanding the clearance of the 127-year-old tunnel and 21 other locations from Baltimore to Philadelphia and will allow the city to send double-stacked containers by rail into the Ohio Valley and Chicago.

And developers of a new $1 billion container terminal at Tradepoint Atlantic logistics hub near the port said earlier this week they aim to open by 2028. Tradepoint is building the proposed Sparrows Point Container Terminal in Coke Point with a subsidiary of shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Co., one of the world’s largest operators of containerships and the port’s largest shipping line.

Development of the 165-acre terminal with an on-dock rail facility is expected to create much-needed additional container-handling capacity in Baltimore and give the port a substantial competitive advantage along the East Coast.

ZIM Integrated Shipping Services ranks No. 33 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest global freight companies in the world.

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