New post-Panamax cranes dedicated at Seagirt
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 12:40

Dignitaries include mayor, governor

by Nicole Rodman

    Last Wednesday, politicians and port officials came together to dedicate four new super-post-Panamax cranes at the Port of Baltimore.
    Located at the port’s Seagirt Marine Terminal, the new cranes are the final part of a $105 million improvement project designed to prepare the port for the Panama Canal expansion in 2015.
    Once completed, the canal expansion will allow ships more than twice the size of today’s largest cargo ships to bring goods to ports on the east coast.

    With the addition of the new cranes, as well as a 50-foot berth completed in 2012, the Port of Baltimore is just one of two ports on the East Coast equipped to handle these new larger ships.
    Costing $40 million ($10 million each) the new cranes arrived at the port last June and went into operation in January.
    Each crane is 400 feet tall, weighs 1,550 pounds and is fully electric.
    The cranes will allow the port to unload the world’s largest cargo ships.
    Each crane can reach 22 container widths across a ship and can lift up to 187,500 pounds of cargo.
    The new cranes and berth were paid for by Ports America Chesapeake as part of a 50-year  agreement with Maryland signed in 2009.
    Under the terms of the agreement, Ports America runs day-to-day operations at the port, receiving net revenues and investing in improvements.
    In return, the state receives annual payments from Ports America.
    State and local politicians and port officials celebrated the finalized port upgrades during last Wednesday’s dedication ceremony.
    Opening the event, the Fort McHenry Color Guard, dressed in historical garb, presented the flag as a band played “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
    In comments during the ceremony, Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake noted, “It’s a great day for Baltimore and a great day for the state of Maryland.”
    Offering brief remarks, the mayor thanked various political officials, including Gov. Martin O’Malley.
    She also touted the importance of the port to the area, saying, “The port contributes to the growth of our city and the entire region.”
    Following the mayor, Christopher Lee, chairman of Ports America Chesapeake and founder of Ports America parent company Highstar Capital, offered remarks.
    In his comments, Lee praised the governor, alluding to O’Malley’s rumored presidential ambitions in 2016.
    “I would count on him to make it all the way. Once again, Baltimore will win,” he said.
    Lee also spoke of the estimated 5,700 new jobs created by building the berth and operating the new cranes.
    Noting the magnitude of the project, Lee said, “I believe we have set a standard here today for how to meet big challenges.”
    Lee also thanked former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, after whom the port is named, for her support.
    In his remarks, O’Malley touted the partnership between the state and Ports America, saying, “This was the largest public-private partnership in the country when it began in 2009.”
    He emphasized that the true importance of the new cranes and berth was “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
    “Without jobs there is no progress for our people,” he explained.
    O’Malley also noted that the Port of Baltimore had a record year in 2012, moving more rolling cargo than any other U.S. port.
    “The future is bright,” O’Malley concluded.
    As a token of gratitude, the governor then presented Lee with a model of a Baltimore clipper ship.
    Concluding the day’s event, O’Malley and Lee then dedicated two of the four new cranes.
    While one crane remains to be named, one was previously dedicated to Mediterranean Shipping Company Captain Lorenzo Di Casagrande, who died in 2010.
    O’Malley named one of the two remaining cranes after Port of Baltimore Executive Director James White, while Lee dedicated the other to his wife, Susan Ginkel.
    Plaques bearing the names of Di Casagrande, White and Ginkel were unveiled. They will later be affixed to the new cranes.
    While the cranes are now in operation, the first super-post-Panamax ships are not expected at the port until the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2015.