The Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore is located along the shores of the Patapsco River and is celebrating 310 years in operation in 2016. Its first site was established near Locust Point, a port of entry for the tobacco trade with England. Fells Point, which is the deepest natural point in the harbor became the main shipbuilding center, providing clipper ships to the colonies.
The port has major roll-on roll-off (ro/ro) and bulk facilities. It is the second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic and moved 29.5 million tons in 2014 with a value of $52.5 billion. (The first is the Port of Virginia at Norfolk.) The port serves more than 50 ocean carriers accounting for 1,800 annual visits. Among US ports, the Port of Baltimore is first in handling autos and trucks, farm and construction machinery. It is second in coal exports. The largest ro/ro carrier in the world, Wallenius Wilhelmsen has a 30 year contract with the port, and the Maersk Line, the world's largest container shipping company, began serving the port in 2015.
As announced in a port press release, the Journal of Commerce has named the Port of Baltimore the most efficient port container terminal in the US, averaging 75 container moves per hour, per berth, for 2014 and the first half of 2015. It is worthy to note that the numbers were reported by international shipping lines, not by the ports themselves.
World Infrastructure News reported that, in anticipation of ever larger ships needing berths – along with the coming opening of the Panama Canal's extension handling post-Panamax sized ships – the port launched a $250 million project with Ports America that was completed in 2015. Its channel was dredged to 50 foot depths to accommodate these deeper draft ships. This effort included the installation of four new super post-Panamax cranes that are 400 feet tall, can stretch across 22 containers, and lift 187,300 pounds of cargo.
In January 2016, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced a new dredging project to remove 2.6 million cubic yards from the shipping channels to ensure safe navigation into and out of the port. Fort McHenry Channel will be modified to a depth of 51 feet and a width of 700 feet; Seagirt Channel West will have a depth of 42 feet and a width of 500 feet; Brewerton Eastern Extension will be dredged to a depth of 36 feet and a width of 700 feet: the Craighill Entrance will gain a depth of 51 feet and a width of 700 feet. All dredging should be completed by the Spring.
The Port of Baltimore includes seven public marine terminals. Following is some basic information about each:
Dundalk Marine Terminal (13 berths – six general and seven container, nine 40-long-ton container cranes, direct rail access. It is the largest general cargo facility (570 acres) at the Port. Handles autos, farm, construction and other ro/ro equipment, wood pulp, steel, breakbulk. The largest ro/ro carrier in the world, Wallenius Wilhelmsen, has a 30 year, 141 acre contract with the Dundalk Marine Terminal. Norfolk Southern direct rail access to all berths and sheds. 789,820 sq. ft. inside storage; outside storage includes: 20 acres of container, 20 acres of breakbulk, 300 acres of auto, 100 acres of ro/ro.)
Fairfield/Masonville Marine Terminals (the complex includes five specialized terminals for the handling and processing of autos, light trucks and similar ro/ro cargo.)
Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (70 acre facility moves cargo between bulkhead and railhead; six trains daily; two trains can be loaded simultaneously. Dedicated truck entrance. Near Seagirt Terminal with convenient bridge connection to the Dundalk Marine Terminal.)
North Locust Point marine Terminal (active for a century, handles steel, bulk, breakbulk and project cargoes. 90 acres with three finger piers (34 foot depth and 1200 ft long). One 45-long-ton container crane, inside and outside storage. Direct rail access.)
Seagirt Marine Terminal (opened in 1990, state-of-the-art, operated by Ports America Chesapeake, 284 acre container terminal. Four 20-story high-speed computerized post-Panamax cranes; four new Panamax cranes. Berths: a new 1200 foot berth capable of handling ships with a draft of 50 feet and 12,000 TEU; two 1000+ foot berths with 45 foot drafts. The complex is capable of handling 450,000 containers a year. Direct Canton Railroad connection.)
South Locust Point Marine Terminal (adjacent Interstate access. A 1988 expansion doubled the size of the terminal to 79 acres. Handles forest products, ro/ro, and autos. Three 36 foot draft berths. 835,000 sq.ft. Inside storage.)
Cruise Maryland Terminal (14 acres with a 1139 foot berth and a depth of 35 ft. 60,000 sq. ft. shed for cruise operations, 1,500 parking spaces.)