Baltimore's new Seagirt containership terminal, whose opening has been delayed by labor unrest, finally has its first tenant.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. agreed with the Maryland Port Administration to use the $250 million terminal, said Nicola Arena, president of Containership Agency, which serves as U.S. general agents for the Geneva-based carrier.The terminal was completed last year, but a labor dispute between the International Longshoremen's Association and the state agency has prevented it

from opening.

Nonetheless, Mr. Arena said Friday, the carrier will transfer its Baltimore operations from the South Locust Point terminal to Seagirt when it finally opens because "it is a state-of-the-art terminal, and it makes sense for us to be there."

Mr. Arena noted that Seagirt offers direct rail access and has a fumigation station on site, which is important because Baltimore is a major export center for logs and lumber.

Mediterranean Shipping operates a weekly service between U.S. North Atlantic ports and Northern Europe.

Mr. Arena said the carrier has a 6.5 percent market share eastbound and about a 5 percent share westbound for the North Atlantic port range. Besides Baltimore, the line also calls at Boston, New York and Norfolk, Va.

The company does not belong to either of the conferences of shipping lines that set rates for member carriers serving the trans-Atlantic trades, but it is a member of the Eurocorde agreement, which permits conference members and independent lines to discuss general market conditions.

Baltimore port officials could not be reached for comment Friday, but the agreement is a major coup for the port. Baltimore has been under severe competitive pressure from other East Coast ports, most notably those in neighboring Virginia.

During the first quarter of this year alone, general cargo volume in Baltimore fell 20 percent from the same period the previous year.