BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Local and state officials gathered Wednesday at the Port of Baltimore to welcome ZIM Shipping Line, a shipping carrier focused on e-commerce, to the port.
The Israel-based company will begin the service from China and Southeast Asia to the U.S. East Coast with stops at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore every other week, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration. Eventually, officials hope to have the service run weekly.
The service is known as the Zim e-Commerce Baltimore express. Bayard Hogans, Vice President of Operations at Ports America Chesapeake, said the service will have the fastest transit time between Asia and Baltimore. Products will go directly from the port to warehouses and other states.
Governor Larry Hogan met with ZIM President and CEO Eli Glickman last December to encourage him to bring the company to Baltimore.
"Important and export demand for containerized cargo has substantially increased over the past year and the Port of Baltimore continues to lead the way in responding to the supply chain crisis by bringing more and more ships and more and more goods into the country," Hogan said. "And the addition of Zims business is yet another sign of the unprecedented growth of Baltimore. "
To accommodate even more massive container ships, the port is making more space to put them. After having dredged a second 50-foot berth at the port, Hogan said they are pursuing a third 50-foot berth, which is used for mooring vessels.
"This is a continuation of our continued and concerted efforts to make the Port of Baltimore far more competitive with other ports for this extremely sought-after containerized cargo market," Hogan said. "And all of that hard work and investment is certainly paying off here today."
The new service comes after the arrival of four new cranes, which became operational last week, and the groundbreaking of the Howard Street Tunnel Expansion Project to allow for double-stacked cargo on trains traveling to and from the port.
The port this year also added a new Maersk line reaching Southeast Asia, Vietnam and China and a Mediterranean Shipping Co. line with stops in the Indian Subcontinent and Mediterranean.
The new shipping service comes at a time when Americans are dealing with supply chain problems. When consumers order items online, the products may take a longer time to arrive and in cases where they go to stores, they find some shelves are empty.
Ports of America Chesapeake has provided additional cranes to the Port of Baltimore that will have the ability to unload as many as 30 containers per crane.
Bayard Hogans said this new agreement between the Port of Baltimore and ZIM Shipping Line will help alleviate product scarcity.
"I know we've been struggling over the past couple of years," he said. "There's times when we get to the stores and certain things are not on the shelves. This really helps to get them to those distribution fulfillment centers."
The new shipping company will make Baltimore the first stop on the route, then New York and Boston and back to China. Officials say the line will serve as a critical pit stop in a world that's still struggling to make deliveries.
"We don't have a problem like the rest of the country on the supply chain. We have the least congested port in the United States of America," said William Doyle, the executive director for the Port of Baltimore
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