By Mark Edward Nero
New cargo business could be coming to the Port of Long Beach’s largest terminal soon after the port’s harbor board approved an agreement to replace a vessel operator that declared bankruptcy four months ago.
On Dec. 22, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners okayed the move by a subsidiary of vessel operator Mediterranean Shipping Co. to take over sole control of the long-term lease of the port’s 381-acre Pier T container terminal.
MSC previously held a minority stake in the lease for Pier T, which is the terminal where over a quarter of the port’s container cargo is moved.
The port says the new agreement with MSC subsidiary Terminal Investment Ltd. (TIL) also guarantees the accelerated installation of ship-to-shore cranes capable of handling the world’s biggest container ships.
TIL takes control of Pier T from Hanjin Shipping, the South Korean ocean carrier that declared bankruptcy on Aug. 31. In 2015, Hanjin accounted for about 12 percent of the containers that moved through Long Beach.
The deal comes at a crucial time, Harbor Commission President Lori Ann Guzmán said.
“With all of the changes that have taken place in the shipping industry in recent years, certainty is very important,” she remarked. “Although we regret the loss of a long-term partner in Hanjin Shipping, we look forward to the opportunities that Terminal Investment Limited, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Hyundai Merchant Marine and their ‘2M Alliance’ partners will bring to Long Beach.”
Earlier this month, Terminal Investment Limited announced that it had signed an agreement to purchase Hanjin Shipping’s stake in the terminal operator at Pier T.
The new pact also requires installation of two new cranes capable of handling container ships with capacities of 20,000 twenty-foot equivalent units within three years.