The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) announced that Rickmers Linie (America), Inc., a German-based carrier specializing in the transport of breakbulk and project cargoes, now regularly calls PRPA’s Tioga Marine Terminal in the city’s Port Richmond section. Initial vessel calls began in early January, and PRPA officials expect upwards of 40 vessel calls during the course of 2008. A Rickmers vessel currently calls Tioga Terminal every two weeks.

As well as generating the usual important types of economic benefits for the Port and region- including longshoremen man hours, dockage & wharfage fees, and the substantial indirect employment created by cargo activity in a port- Rickmers brings two additional benefits to the Port of Philadelphia: a substantial increase in export cargo activity and a reinvigoration of Tioga Terminal’s rail capabilities.

PRPA Director of Marketing Sean Mahoney explained the reasons for these added benefits: ‘The Rickmers service at Tioga is part of the carrier’s larger ‘Pearl String’ round-the-world service, including stops in Europe, Asia, India, and the U.S.,’ said Mr. Mahoney. ‘Philadelphia is the last U.S. stop on this service before the vessels head overseas, so the vessels have tended to take on substantial amounts of cargo destined for international markets. And as proud as we are of all our port’s imported cargoes, in today’s trade climate export cargo is always gratifying to see.’

The recent surge in exports at Tioga has also helped place Tioga’s rail capabilities back on the front burner. Continued Mr. Mahoney: Rail track at the facility allows us to bring a rail car right up to the vessel to take on or discharge cargo. Increased cargo activity, especially increased outbound cargo business brought about by our new Rickmers service, has greatly increased the use of our rail capabilities at the terminal in the past month, and this trend will likely continue.’

Rickmers vessels regularly handle different varieties of steel (bars, billets, wire, etc.) destined for U.S. and foreign markets, as well as inbound and outbound project cargoes. Rickmers vessels on the ‘Pearl String’ service are equipped with shipboard cranes with an extraordinary lift capacity, 640 metric tons, allowing the service to handle all the unusual- and often heavy- cargoes related to project shipments. A typical project cargo can be a turbine for an electrical plant or a heat exchanger destined for a manufacturing operation here or abroad.

In the past, prior to establishing its ongoing service at Tioga, Rickmers often used Port of Philadelphia facilities for these special shipments, because the Port’s special abilities to handle project and heavy-left cargoes complemented the carrier’s abilities to do the same. For example, Rickmers has transported Pennsylvania-manufactured locomotives from the General Electric plant in Erie, Pennsylvania to China, via the Port of Philadelphia. Rickmers’ past confidence in the Port’s abilities was a contributing factor to its establishment of its current ongoing relationship with the Port.

Rickmers vessels on the ‘Pearl String’ service also have an 1800-TEU container capacity, allowing for container activity when required. A typical Rickmers call at Tioga involves substantial breakbulk/project activity, often with a rail component, and some additional container activity.

Rickmers-Linie is soon expected to add an additional America/Asia ‘Westabout’ service to its current activity at Tioga, the reason that a healthy 40-vessel count is projected for 2008.

PRPA’s Tioga Marine Terminal is operated by Delaware River Stevedores, Inc. (DRS), which worked with PRPA to attract Rickmers Line to the facility. Rickmers-Linie is based in Germany and has its main U.S. headquarters in Houston, Texas.