APL last week halted its US-flagged Baltic Sea feeder service which, since mid-2010, linked the German northrange ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven with the Estonian port Tallinn-Muuga. The weekly loop employed the 1988-built 575 teu vessel NATIONAL GLORY which, presently laid up in Hamburg, is believed to head back to the United States soon.
One of the reasons for the creation of this unusual US-flagged service might have been the need to carry military cargoes to Estonia, from where a landbridge to Afghanistan feeds supplies to coalition forces in the country. However, the potential strategic role of the service has never been officially acknowledged.
The NATIONAL GLORY was one of three US-flagged container ship employed in the Baltic feeder trade. The remaining two are Maersk Line’s 1,092 teu MAERSK ARKANSAS and the Wilmington Trust-owned 887 teu CARAT, on charter to Hapag-Lloyd.