Maersk Nears Decision on Returning to Baltimore Port as Cleanup Efforts Advance

Maersk Nears Decision on Returning to Baltimore Port as Cleanup Efforts Advance

A.P. Moller-Maersk, a global shipping leader, is close to determining when it will resume operations at the Port of Baltimore, contingent on the cleanup progress of the recently collapsed bridge. The company anticipates it could announce a return timeline within the next week, with potential service resumption by the end of May.

Charles Van der Steene, Maersk North America’s president, expressed that the situation remains uncertain due to ongoing cleanup activities and the reopening timeline for the channel to accommodate large vessels. He noted, “Should the channel reopen by the end of May, our network team expects to decide on rerouting vessels back to Baltimore within five to ten days.”

The Unified Command, overseeing the cleanup, confirmed that the decision to reopen the port rests with them. Maersk’s review of the cleanup efforts follows the accident where the container ship Dali collided with and demolished the Francis Scott Key Bridge, suggesting possible vessel arrivals by late May or early June.

Van der Steene remarked on the current status of the Dali, noting that fewer than 200 containers have been removed in the past nine days. No further container removal is planned immediately, as efforts focus on refloating the vessel for port entry. The Dali, chartered by Maersk, began container removal in early April, following the bridge collapse on March 26.

Despite the Baltimore port challenges, Maersk is navigating additional global supply chain disruptions. CEO Vincent Clerc recently highlighted issues like Red Sea diversions affecting global vessel and container availability, with these changes expected to continue impacting the industry into the year-end.

Moreover, North American freight orders from Asia have shown significant growth, driving optimism for 2024 as a “year of reinvigoration,” according to Van der Steene. He cited unprecedented growth rates in shipments from Asia and Europe to the U.S., surpassing earlier projections. This growth is coupled with increased imports from Vietnam and China into Mexico, with subsequent trucking into the U.S., reflecting a robust expansion in Maersk’s Mexican operations.

As Maersk manages these dynamics, Van der Steene expects the peak shipping season, starting in June, to align with historical norms, unaffected by potential shifts in the industry later in the year.

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