Maryland is located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., with 3,190 miles of coastline, most of them around Chesapeake Bay. The state is home to an active maritime industry, dominated by the major Port of Baltimore on the Patapsco River, and six smaller ports and harbors geared toward fishing and recreational boating. Together, these maritime facilities form a major hub for cargo and passenger traffic on the East Coast, as well as a source for thousands of marine-related jobs. However, as lucrative as maritime jobs are, many seamen and longshore workers are injured or killed while at work, often because their vessels are unseaworthy or their employers were negligent.
Maryland Ports and Maritime Accidents
Maryland’s chief maritime facilities are situated in the huge Port of Baltimore. First established in in 1706 as a transit point for British-bound tobacco, the Port of Baltimore is the second largest seaport on the U.S. East Coast. Only the Port of New York and New Jersey is larger than Baltimore’s. The port combines several facilities for cargo ships and cruise ships, including berths for roll-on, roll-off freighters which bring in foreign cars made by Mercedes Benz and other automakers. Cruise ships that sail from Baltimore include Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Grandeur of the Seas and Carnival Lines’ Carnival Pride. These ships carry thousands of passengers at a time to popular destinations in the eastern Caribbean or the Bahamas on a regular schedule.
The Port of Baltimore is a major cornerstone of Maryland’s economy. It supports 50,700 jobs and generates $3.2 billion in both general revenue and local income annually.
Maryland has six smaller ports, most of which are geared for Chesapeake Bay fishing and recreational vessels. The six ports are:
- City Yacht Basin
- Port Annapolis
- Port of Cambridge
- Solomons Island Harbor
- Naval Air Station Patuxent River
- Somers Cove Marina
Maritime workers earn generous salaries, but they work long hours and have to perform physically demanding jobs. Even with the use of modern machinery, seamen and longshore workers must regularly carry heavy items or walk constantly on hard metal decks and floors. People and vehicles are constantly moving around, and heavy cranes lift containers that can weigh over two tons each when they are empty. This is an environment in which accidents can, and often do, occur without warning.
Ships on Chesapeake Bay and the open Atlantic Ocean are also high-risk workplaces. As with all complex machines, vessels are only as durable as the parts they’re made from. A worn out fuel line can break in an engine room and set off a fire at sea. A cruise ship’s electrical generator may go offline in mid-cruise and leave it stranded hundreds of miles from shore, causing passengers and crew a variety of miseries that can linger for days while they wait for rescue. In the worst of cases, these situations can lead to tragedies that end in sunken vessels and lost lives.