While its containerized cargo presence continues to grow, the Port of Baltimore has by no means abandoned its industry-leading commitment to handling automobiles, heavy equipment and other roll-on/roll-off goods.

The Port of Baltimore’s US-leading roll-on/roll-off operations, in foreground, are a perfect complement to the port’s growing containerized cargo business.
The Port of Baltimore’s US-leading roll-on/roll-off operations, in foreground, are a perfect complement to the port’s growing containerized cargo business.

Automobiles and other rolling stock cross Baltimore docks at a pace greater than at any other U.S. port. That’s been the case for a long time, and all indications are it will continue to be. For five straight years, the Port of Baltimore has been No. 1 in the U.S. in combined imports and exports of automobiles. James J. White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, said his port is on target to reach its goal of 800,000 cars handled this year, which would be up nearly 50,000 units from 2015.

And Baltimore is No. 1 in the nation for roll-on/roll-off cargos, including farm and construction equipment made by such firms as Caterpillar Inc., Deere & Co. and Case Construction Equipment.

“Our future for ro-ro will remain strong,” White said. “We intend on keeping that No. 1 title long-term.”

Helping ensure the Port of Baltimore’s long-term ro-ro dominance is the new 30-year contract signed in December 2015 with global leader Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, the port’s top ro-ro customer, moving everything from cars to heavy farm and construction machinery, such as harvesters, combines, excavators and dump trucks.

Even more recently, a June agreement was inked between Pasha Automotive Services and Tradepoint Atlantic for development of a new purpose-built auto terminal and related infrastructure at Sparrows Point. [See profile interview with John Pasha, senior vice president of Pasha Automotive Services, on the left side of this page.]

“We’ve always prided ourselves on what we’ve created here for the automobile manufacturers in the way of having multiple processors, so they have choices,” White said. “We have a lot of ro-ro ships calling here, so they know they’re going to get good ocean freight rates here, because of competition.”