Port, Maersk mark 20-year partnership

The Port Tacoma Commission recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its partnership with Maersk Sealand.

Sea-Land first called the Port of Tacoma in May 1985, and just weeks later, the first Maersk vessel entered Tacoma’s Commencement Bay. At the time, a Maersk official summarized the company’s decision to start a Pacific Northwest service, stating, “This area has great potential … this is where we feel the action is going to be, and we’re right in the middle of it.”

The A.P. Moller-Maersk Group acquired Sea-Land Service Inc. in 1999, creating Maersk Sealand, the largest container shipping line in the world. Over the last 20 years in Tacoma, its terminal has grown from 76 acres to 132 acres (53.4 hectares).

The addition of Maersk and Sea-Land helped push Tacoma’s 1985 container volume to new records. “Since then, Maersk Sealand – as a combined company – has been a major part of our growth,” said Port of Tacoma Commissioner Dick Marzano. “In 2005, we expect to eclipse 2 million TEUs. We thank Maersk Sealand for being a partner in our success over the past 20 years and an important partner in our future.”

At a recent Commission meeting, Port of Tacoma Commission President R. Ted Bottiger presented APM Terminals-Tacoma General Manager Eric Waltz and Facilities Manager Gerry Olson with a framed plaque with two inset photos – one of the Charlotte Maersk in 1985 and a recent photo of two of Maersk Sealand’s largest vessels on Tacoma’s Sitcum Waterway. The inscription reads, “A Proud Past, a Promising Future – Presented to Maersk Sealand in recognition of your 20-year partnership with the Port of Tacoma.”


1984 — A historic voyage reaches an end when two new Hitachi container cranes arrive the new Sea-Land Terminal (now known as APM Terminals North America). The voyage marks the first time that fully assembled cranes cross the Pacific Ocean.

1985 — As separate entities, Maersk Line and Sea-Land Service become Port of Tacoma customers, each with its own terminal.

1991 — With Port expansion and cargo growth of Maersk and Sea-Land, the Port of Tacoma surpasses 1 million TEUs for the first time.

1999 — The world’s largest container ships, the 6,600-TEU Susan Maersk and 6,000-TEU Regina Maersk, start calling Tacoma, demonstrating the capabilities of APM Terminals, the Port of Tacoma and its inland transportation connections.

1999 — The A.P. Moller-Maersk Group announces the purchase of Sea-Land’s international business and terminals. This merger creates Maersk Sealand, the largest container shipping line in the world.

2002 — The Port completes a $9.2 million, 600-foot pier extension at APM Terminals. The improvement creates a second berth with total berth length 2,200 feet (671 meters).

2005 — With the continued growth of the Port of Tacoma and its partner, Maersk Sealand, the Port expects to eclipse 2 million TEUs for the first time in its history. The Port projects a total of 2.3 million TEUs in 2005.