NEW ZIM LEASE SMOOTHS WATER IN SAVANNAH

NEW ZIM LEASE SMOOTHS WATER IN SAVANNAH

A new lease agreement dispelled the enmity of the past 11 months, allowing Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co. and Georgia Ports Authority executives to hoist more than a few cups of cheer to welcome a new Zim containership to Savannah.

The proposed multi-year lease for berthing and container storage at the port authority's Garden City Terminal brings to an end a series of disputes surrounding an earlier lease proposed in July 1988."We feel real good about it," said George Nichols, port authority executive director, referring both to the new agreement and to the new ships Zim is bringing to Savannah.

However, he declined to divulge details of the lease until it is filed with the Federal Maritime Commission.

Zim, one of Savannah's largest ocean carriers, uses the port as its South Atlantic load center for its Far Eastern, Mediterranean and Caribbean services.

The Zim America is the first of the carrier's seven new cellular containerships to be deployed, said Walt Mitchell, manager of Zim's Atlanta regional office.

One of the new ships, being built for $250 million at Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft shipyard in West Germany, will come on-line every few months, he said.

Each vessel, measuring 775 feet in length and weighing 37,685 deadweight tons, can carry 3,029 20-foot containers.

At the party welcoming the Zim America on its maiden call to Savannah June 1, "there were good feelings all around," Mr. Nichols said in a telephone interview Thursday.

He couldn't have said that after Zim and several subsidiaries filed a complaint in July 1989 alleging the port authority reneged on a terminal lease agreement filed the previous July with the Federal Maritime Commission.

The complaint sought at least $6 million, the amount of money a newly created stevedoring subsidiary, Savannah International Terminal, claimed it would lose.

The port authority argued the lease was never approved by Joe Frank Harris, Georgia governor, or by Mike Bowers, state attorney general, and therefore couldn't be honored.