Maersk to call Savannah, Wilmington, N.C.
Charleston’s loss will be a gain for both Wilmington, N.C., and Savannah, as Maersk Line announced Tuesday that its South Atlantic Express (SAE) service will drop its double call at the South Carolina port in March in favor stops at those two ports.
The service had represented about a quarter of Maersk’s business in Charleston.
Maersk Line said in December that it would have all its ships stop calling Charleston by 2010, complaining it was operating at a cost disadvantage to its competitors in the port, which it said benefited from lower costs at common user terminals.
Maersk currently makes seven weekly calls at Charleston. In addition to the two from the SAE being eliminated in March, the port also announced last week that its West Mediterranean service, which it is combining with CMA CGM, will no longer call in Charleston, but will call at New York, Norfolk, Savannah and Miami.
Maersk said the decision to have the SAE call Wilmington and Savannah as well as adjustments to the overall schedule “will improve transit times and broaden coverage.”
The new rotation of the Maersk SAE service is Savannah, Wilmington, Norfolk, Miami, Puerto Cortes in Honduras, and Santo Tomas in Guatemala.
“The call at the Port of Wilmington also represents an expansion of the scope of our services to a young and growing port of call,” said Bill Woodhour, Maersk’s sales manager for North America. “As this is a new port offering, we have worked closely with our existing customers to ensure their needs continue to be met, and we are excited that this revised product introduces Maersk Line’s quality, reliable service to a new and eager customer base.”
It is the second new service to announce it will call the North Carolina port in a week. Last week, Independent Container Line said its ships would call Wilmington instead of Richmond, Va., beginning in March.
The new service to Central America “supports North Carolina’s textile and apparel industries, and will help to sustain the jobs of thousands of North Carolina workers in these and related industries.” said Carl J. Stewart Jr., chairman of the North Carolina State Ports Authority board of directors.
Port of Charleston spokesman Byron Miller said there are continuing “productive discussions' between the port, Maersk and the International Longshoremen’s Association as part of efforts to keep Maersk calling at the port. ' Chris Dupin