Eimskip’s first container ship docks in Portland

Posted March 13, 2013, at 7:57 p.m.
Last modified March 13, 2013, at 9:35 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — The first of many container ships belonging to the Icelandic company that has chosen Portland as its North American headquarters arrived in Casco Bay on Wednesday afternoon.

The Reykjafoss, one of two container ships belonging to Eimskip that will be making calls in Portland, docked at the city’s International Marine Terminal around 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Eimskip in early February announced it was moving its North American headquarters from Norfolk, Va., to Portland.

The Reykjafoss arrived from Norfolk carrying dozens of empty cargo containers and chassis, which look like a truck’s frame with wheels, needed to get the company’s operations in Portland up and running.

One of the people watching some of Portland’s longshoremen unload the containers was Gylfi Mar Geirsson, the man Eimskip has chosen to run its Portland-based operations.

“We’re hoping for a great business relationship with the city and state,” said Geirsson, who spent the last two years working for Eimskp in St. John’s, Newfoundland. “And what we’ll be bringing is anything and everything. We’ll be bring a lot of seafood and other miscellaneous items. And then we’ll have options for other smaller businesses and smaller companies to move their cargo, as well.”

Eimskip expects to ship products, primarily refrigerated seafood at first, from Europe to Portland, where they will then be shipped around the country via rail. It’s hoping Maine businesses will then fill the empty containers for products destined for northern European ports.

Geirsson already has a sense that Portland’s small businesses are ready to embrace the opportunity to have a direct shipping connection with Europe.

Geirsson said had a chance to walk around Portland’s downtown for the first time Wednesday afternoon. In one of the first retail shops he entered, he got into a discussion with the business’s owner. After the owner learned who Geirrsson was, he immediately expressed interest in knowing how he could start importing items from England for his business.

“That was the fastest sale ever. I didn’t have to do anything,” Geirsson said.

The Reykjafoss will head to Halifax next, Geirsson said.

The first Eimskip ship with full containers is scheduled to arrive in Portland on March 26, Geirsson said.