Monday, March 7, 2011

Short seas container service to Portland?

After two of my favorite contenders for introducing a bonafide short seas shipping operation here in the USA, Coastal Connect and SeaBridge Freight, shut down there is finally some good news for people who love the idea of moving containers off interstates and onto the Marine Highway system.

American Feeder Lines is poised to begin a Boston, Portland, Halifax service returning a regular container vessel to the Port of Portland's underutilized International Marine Terminal as reported in the Press Herald.
Port of Portland Maine. Note the VLCC along side the Portland Pipeline and the anchored product tanker. Now if only there were a few roros and container ships in the mix.

While the initial service would require the chartering of a foreign flagged vessel if financing can be secured for building 10 Jones Act compliant vessels than perhaps I'll have my dream job of driving one up and down the eastern seaboard someday. It was the lack of such all important financing that dissuaded Coastal Connect from becoming a reality and SeaBridge from using the 3 million dollar marine highways grant received from MARAD as reported below by the Cargo Letter.

***The Seabridge Collapses ... as one of the most promising ventures in the infant marine highways industry went out of business in Jan. for lack of financing. Seabridge Freight was a pioneer operator that established service between Port Manatee, Fla., and Brownsville, Texas, in Dec. 2008, but ceased operations last Nov. Officials announced in Jan. they had been unable to raise enough capital to carry out the company's strategy, and now it is closed with no plans to reopen. A company official explained that an investor who had a 75% stake in the company dropped his support when other unrelated ventures went bad.Seabridge Freight operated a tug and barge on a four-day schedule between ports Manatee & Brownsville. A principal source of business was containers too heavy for highway transit. The company was doing well enough to be the beneficiary of a US$3.34M marine highways grant that the Maritime Administration awarded to ports Manatee & Brownsville. The money, slated for disbursement in March, would have paid for two additional barges to increase service frequency.

Container ship service to resume in Portland | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

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