Maine lost its only remaining ocean container service in June when Columbia Coastal Transport suspended service between Portland Harbor, Boston and New York.
Columbia Coastal stopped its barge service out of Portland June 29 after the loss of a key customer, Red Shield Environmental LLC, a pulp and energy company that is trying to reorganize its finances and resume operations.
The suspension leaves the port without any ocean container transport service and raises doubt about the city's future as a container port and of its International Marine Terminal, which closed down last week.
Portland's only ocean-going container service ended in December 2007 when Icelandic carrier Eimskip suspended its feeder service from Halifax to Boston via Portland.
Red Shield used the Columbia Coastal barge to ship 10,000 metric tons of wood pulp each month, which was packed into containers by Sprague Energy at its Merrill's Maine Terminal, and shipped to the Port of New York-New Jersey where he containers were loaded onto container ships bound for Europe and Asia.
Before the Columbia Coastal service was suspended, there had been hopes it would soon become weekly. Columbia Coastal started up the service last August and by the end of the year the number of cargo containers leaving the port had almost doubled from the year before, from 2,218 in 2006 to 4,077 in 2007.