Despite possible costly delays, Governor William Donald Schaefer has ordered port officials to look for ways to have American companies contracted for work on the cranes at the new Seagirt Marine Terminal. The state’s standard bidding procedure produced a Japanese contractor for the project.
At the heart of the controversy are six container cranes to be built by the Japanese company Nissho Iwai American Corp. out of steel fabricated in Korea. According to port administrator David Wagner, the cranes take 18 months to construct. He added that if the bidding process is forced to start over, the opening of the first berth at Seagirt could be delayed beyond its scheduled opening in the spring of 1989.
The Maryland Buy American Steel Act allows state agencies to buy foreign steel products only if similar American goods are priced 20 percent or more higher. At the time the crane bids were placed, American steel was running at 43 percent more than the imports.
State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein pointed out that the motors and cables to be used on the cranes are to be American made, and suggested having a separate contractor responsible only for the crane structure. Port officials rejected that idea because of potential problems that could rise from dealing with more than one supplier.
Mr. Wagner said the Japanese company was chosen both for its competitive price and for its superior designers.
This article appeared 25 years ago, in the Aug. 6 1987 issue of the Baltimore Guide.