Container business suspended at port

The newly established container cargo business at the Port of Portsmouth has hit a snag after the shipping company abruptly pulled the plug on service to the Northeast.

Ports and Harbors Director Geno Marconi said that it was a business decision by Eimskip, the firm hired by Northeast Marine Development, which recently stopped calling on the ports of Portsmouth, Boston and Portland, Maine.

But Marconi said that he remains confident that Dale Wood, who owns Northeast Marine Development, will successfully re-establish service to Portsmouth.

“Mr. Wood has made all indications to this department that they’ll continue with this project,” Marconi said. “Coming right out of the starting gate, with what he did and how he performed in the beginning, I’d say we’ve just got a little slack period here, and we’re looking forward to it picking up again shortly.”

Northeast Marine Development’s contract with the state stipulates that a container vessel make 20 stops per year at the port. Marconi pointed out that container cargo service began on July 15.

“They’ve got 12 vessel calls on the chalkboard already,” he said, “so for him to meet his minimum commitment to us, he needs to have eight more vessel calls. So he has between now and the first of July to fulfill that commitment.”

Wood, speaking from his office in Florida confirmed that he is aggressively seeking another carrier after Eimskip stopped its service.

“That’s what we’re doing right now,” he said, “And we’re doing it every day. We’ve got a lot of cargo to move.”

Wood said that the early success of the container cargo business should help him find another carrier. And he re-affirmed his commitment to re-establish the service to Portsmouth.

“As a matter of fact, we’re right now generating revenue and moving things along. It’s just that we want to bring another service in to move through the port itself,” he said.

In the meantime, Wood is using rail transportation to ship containers from Worcester, Mass., to New York.