WASHINGTON – The $6.8 billion deal British courts approved Monday, putting a Dubai-owned company in charge of significant operations at six U.S. ports, also gives the company a lesser role in other dockside activities at 16 other American seaports.
By purchasing London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., DP World bought the publicly traded British firm's concessions to manage and operate some cargo or passenger terminal facilities in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
It has been known that the deal involves limited operations at ports besides the six that have drawn the most attention. An Associated Press survey of ports managers across the country on Monday determined the full scope of the other dockside operations in question.
Tampa's port authority, for example, said Monday that it will reconsider a pending contract for the British company to manage and operate some terminals once DP World's purchase is finalized.
The AP review of ports nationwide found that at more than one dozen others, DP World would operate so-called stevedoring operations that employ longshoremen to load and unload cargo on behalf of a port's terminal operators. These ports include Baton Rouge, La.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Gulfport, Miss.; Lake Charles, La.; and Portland, Maine.
The Department of Homeland Security has said DP World would "only operate and manage specific, individual terminals located within six ports."
DP World formally submitted last week to an unusual, broader security examination by the Bush administration over the ports deal, which it code-named "Project Thunder." The investigation will be conducted by a U.S. review panel, which considers security risks of foreign companies buying or investing in U.S. industry. The panel previously unanimously approved the ports deal.
DP World said during the renewed scrutiny, or until May 1, Dubai executives would not control or influence the company's business in the United States.
Terminal operators keep cargo containers securely in storage yards until they pass U.S. Customs requirements. Containers are then loaded onto trucks for final delivery across the country. Unlike a terminal operator, a stevedore does not control a port's gates for entry and exit of cargo.
Peninsular & Oriental's executive vice president for security, Robert Scavone, told senators last week at a congressional hearing that aside from the company's major operations in ports such as Miami and Newark, "everywhere else we're either just a pure stevedore, or we do manage terminals with something not quite even as extensive as a lease."