Baltimore's port was the most productive port in the nation for the third straight time in 2015, according to an independent analysis by the Journal of Commerce.
The port averaged 71 container moves per hour per berth, unloading and loading giant container ships by crane faster than any other port in the country.
The metric is closely monitored by shipping lines, for whom time is of the essence; the longshoremen who work at the docks, who pride themselves on it; and port officials, who use it to pitch Baltimore's port to customers across the globe. The 11 cranes at the Seagirt Marine Terminal, the port's primary container facility, are operated by Ports America Chesapeake under a $1.3 billion public-private partnership deal.
Four of the company's cranes are large enough to load and unload the new, larger ships through the new Panama Canal — making Baltimore one of only four East Coast ports able to do so. The port welcomed its first container ship that traveled from Asia through the new canal this year.
Baltimore previously was named the nation's most productive port by the Journal of Commerce for the first six months of 2015 and the entire year of 2014.
Port productivity is measured by international shipping lines, not by the ports or marine terminals. The ranking takes into account a ship's arrival time at a berth, the number of container moves per hour and the ship's departure time.
The port of Baltimore's public and private marine terminals handled a combined 32.4 million tons of international cargo last year, valued at approximately $51.1 billion, officials said. It remains the top automobile port in the U.S., handling more than half the nation's cars and light trucks. Baltimore's port is ranked ninth in the nation for total dollar value of cargo, and 13th for cargo tonnage, officials said.
"This is a tremendous way to end what has been a great year for the Port of Baltimore," Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement.