Port eyed as entry for war materiel


WASHINGTON -- U.S. military transportation officials say the Port of Baltimore is being considered as an entry point for materiel that will return from the war in the Persian Gulf.

The port did not handle any outgoing military supplies and equipment because much of the materiel belonged to military units stationed in the South and was shipped from Southern ports, according to military officials and the office of Rep. Helen D. Bentley, R-2nd.

Bentley and her staff helped arrange a port visit two weeks ago by Maj. Gen. John R. Piatak of the Military Traffic Management Command based in Falls Church, Va. The command is responsible for moving Department of Defense materiel.

Piatak inspected the new Seagirt Marine Terminal and was supplied with cost figures by the Maryland Port Administration and stevedore companies, Bentley said. She and her staff said Piatak's command previously had relied on published tariff rates that didn't accurately reflect costs.

The command's chief of public affairs, Bruce Edwards, said Friday that military officials are "doing a cost analysis" that would help determine what, if anything, might be processed through the port.

"It wouldn't be cost-effective to bring a ship into Baltimore unless you had a lot of stuff on it," Edwards said.

The command doesn't yet know what will be brought back from the war theater, Edwards said, "We don't know what we'll be leaving in the gulf."

It's also possible some materiel shipped from Europe to the gulf might be returned to the United States, he said, adding, "I won't speculate."

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