The Massachusetts Port Authority today announced that Maersk Sealand will provide a weekly direct call ocean service from North Europe to the Port of Boston. The announcement is the result of ongoing discussions between Massport officials and Maersk Sealand with assistance from the congressional delegation.
The creation of a port action coalition has brought together Massport, importers, exporters, union and political leaders who have been working to maintain a direct trans-Atlantic link to serve hundreds of businesses shipping goods to and from Boston.
Maersk Sealand had been a member of the Vessel Sharing Agreement (VSA), a consortium of five ocean carriers serving the route between the United States Atlantic and Gulf coasts and North Europe. This service has included a call in the Port of Boston since 1987, but was set to end with the disbanding of the VSA.
Due to unified efforts by the Port of Boston=s coalition, Maersk-Sealand will continue direct service to the Port of Boston, operating its own weekly service between the United States and North Europe. The Port of Boston will be the first port of call on the inbound leg from North Europe. Maersk Sealand=s U.S. to North Europe service will operate for the next four months, and be replaced in October by a service calling the Far East, the United States and North Europe. Over the next several months, Maersk Sealand will evaluate the support it receives from New England importers and exporters and decide whether to include the Port of Boston on the new service.
"The Port of Boston's coalition of business, union and political leaders is showing the world that Massport is serious about maintaining a robust working port," said Virginia Buckingham, Executive Director and CEO of Massport. "From frozen fish to footwear to florescent light bulbs, the port is the center of commerce for the entire New England region."
Massport and the local port industry gained the attention of Maersk Sealand through a unified effort to highlight the value of New England importers and exporters. These companies control a large volume of cargo, only a portion of which is exported from or imported to New England. Local cargo interests are prepared to commit significant amounts of its New England cargo as well as cargo on other trade lanes, to induce a steamship line such as Maersk Sealand to maintain or establish direct service to the Port of Boston.
"Congressman Moakley and the local business community have worked tirelessly to highlight the Port of Boston," said Buckingham. "Now is the time for all port users to strengthen their support of continued direct service calls to Boston."
"The strong desire expressed by the port community for direct vessel calls in the Port of Boston proves that New England has become a much larger player in the shipping arena because of the large volumes of cargo controlled here and shipped world-wide," said Mike Leone, Massport's Port Director. ABy banding together to commit their total volumes of cargo to a direct call carrier, New England importers and exporters have demonstrated a serious demand for this service."
The Port of Boston currently handles over one million tons of containerized cargo a year. New England=s premier center for waterborne imports and exports of consumer goods, Massport's newly renovated and expanded Conley Terminal in South Boston is fully equipped for efficient container operations.
Boston's ship channels and vessel berths are deep enough to handle the most modern class of large merchant ships. The productivity of the International Longeshoremens= Association labor in loading and unloading ships in Boston consistently ranks among the highest on the East Coast.
The Port of Boston continues to be served by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) with a weekly inbound call from North Europe. MSC has been calling on Boston for 15 years.
The Port of Boston is also served by the SPM weekly feeder ship from Halifax, and by Columbia Coastal Transport which provides the Port of Boston with barges twice a week from New York.