The Working Waterfront

Eastport turns down Russian ship request

Vessel carrying petroleum product was bound for Montreal

Tom Walsh
Posted 2022-03-14
Last Modified 2022-03-14

When a cargo ship en route to Montreal from Russia with 8,000 tons of petroleum product recently found itself in need of some short-term parking, the shippers involved contacted Washington County’s Eastport Port Authority.

The North Atlantic’s deepest ports include Eastport’s cargo terminal and downtown breakwater dock, which in June 2020 accommodated short-term cruise ship storage in response to ever-changing COVID-related regulations affecting cruise ship operations. The 785-foot,15-deck Oceania Riviera tied up in Eastport for 56 days before the ship and its skeleton crew were cleared to head to Europe.

As a response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Canada blocked imports of all Russian cargos. That action left the small cargo ship and its 8,000-tons of “solid pitch” in need of a port other than Montreal. It was four days out from Eastport, but given U.S. import restrictions on Russian cargoes, could the small cargo ship legally tie up in coastal Washington County? Nobody knew.

“We were operating in a complete fog,” said Eastport Port Authority Executive Director Chris Gardner said Friday, March 11. “We looked into it, but nobody seemed to know what the current rules were.”

After consulting with the stevedores union that handles cargo at Eastport’s docks, it was decided there would be no parking available.

“No one felt comfortable taking on such a project, not with four days’ notice,” Gardner said.