SM Line to start calling at port of Portland in January, resuming box services

SOUTH Korea's SM Line plans to start a weekly container shipping service that will call at the US port of Portland in Oregon from early next year

22 November 2019 - 19:00

SOUTH Korea's SM Line plans to start a weekly container shipping service that will call at the US port of Portland in Oregon from early next year. The service is expected to benefit regional farmers and shippers.

A Portland call will be added to the carrier's Pacific Northwest service, with the first ship due to arrive at the port in January 2020. The service is operated by six box ships with a capacity ranging from 4,300 to 4,500 TEU.

This service 'will create more jobs for Oregonians and more opportunities for local companies to grow as they market Oregon products overseas,' Governor Kate Brown was quoted as saying in a report by American Shipper. 'Oregon sent US$1.7 billion in exports to South Korea last year.'

She said that during a recent trade mission to South Korea: 'We met with SM Line executives and made the case for continuing connections with our trading partners in Asia. I'm delighted they made the decision to come to Portland.'

Portland has been without a direct container shipping service since 2017, forcing importers and exporters to move their containers by truck or rail to ports such as Seattle and Tacoma, Washington.

'We are thrilled to welcome SM Line and give regional shippers more options and better connect Oregon businesses to global markets,' said port of Portland executive director Curtis Robinhold. 'This service will help reduce the number of trucks on the road and decrease regional environmental impacts of freight movement.'

With the addition of Portland, the full port rotation for the Pacific Northwest service will be: Yantian, Ningbo, Shanghai, Busan, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Busan, Kwangyang, returning to Yantian.

'The re-establishment of ocean container service to Asia from the Columbia river is long awaited and vital for agriculture and forest products exports,' said Agriculture Transportation Coalition executive director Peter Friedmann. 'The benefits will extend not only to those who source in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, but also those who approach the west coast gateway ports from further east by train.

'While the majority of agriculture and forest products exports will continue to move through the Puget Sound marine terminals in Tacoma and Seattle, any new Columbia river service, even at much smaller volumes, will provide an alternative to the costly truck dray up the congested interstate. It will make hours of service less costly for truckers bringing product from Oregon sources.

'This will also provide an opportunity for the ILWU Local which will be working these ships, to demonstrate their willingness and ability to match or hopefully exceed productivity elsewhere on the west coast'.

Terminal 6 was the scene of a drawn out labour dispute among the terminal operator, the US subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services Inc, ICTSI Oregon, which operated the terminal from 2011 and 2017, and the union representing longshoremen at the terminal, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

As productivity at the terminal plummeted, shipping lines stopped calling Portland, and the port eventually ended its lease with ICTSI Oregon.

Earlier this month, a US federal jury awarded $93.6 million to ICTSI Oregon after finding ILWU members engaged in illegal work practices such as work slowdowns and stoppages.

After ICTSI left, the port of Portland and BNSF Railway started using Terminal 6 as an inland rail intermodal terminal, shuttling containers to and from container terminals at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. As a multipurpose facility, Terminal 6 is also used to load and discharge automobiles as well as breakbulk and project cargo.


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