The P3 Network, a global alliance between the shipping industry’s three largest steamship lines (Maersk, MSC, CMA-CGM), has announced plans to include the Port of Baltimore for their new service which links Asia, the Middle East, the Med, and the US East Coast.  Early outlines and press releases had made no mention of Baltimore, causing the international business community in the Mid-Atlantic a great deal of anxiety.  If the P3 Network had omitted Baltimore from their routing, only Evergreen would have had a substantial Asia-Baltimore all-water link.  This would have been a serious matter from a pricing and volume perspective for local importers and exporters, who would have likely considered replacing Baltimore with alternative ports, such as New York or Norfolk.

In essence, the new service will replace MSC’s “Golden Gate” service and will very closely resemble that product.  MSC’s “Golden Gate” covers Northern and Southern China relays over Singapore, bypasses the Indian Sub-Continent, calls Haifa, Israel, and then sails straight through to the US.  Because there are only two port calls after Singapore before arriving in the US, the service is popular for fast, all-water transit times.   For Baltimore, the new service will live up to the “Golden Gate’s” impressive 36-day transit from Shanghai and 31-day transit from Yantian into Baltimore.  The further good news is that this new service, which is expected to launch by April 1, 2014, will be supported by 12 vessels with 8,500 TEU capacity.   While this is not a capacity jump for the local trade, it certainly is not a step backwards.

It is significant to note that this offering and all the other planned P3 Network services must be approved by regulatory authorities (notably the Federal Maritime Commission).

Shapiro will inform you when this initiative is approved and will be releasing a blog soon on the P3 Network’s overall effect on global shipping.