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Moving cargo vessels in and out of the Port of Baltimore is a complex task. Gigantic ships carry everything from thousands of new cars to 40-foot containers packed with sporting goods or personal protective equipment.

It’s no surprise a team effort is required to safely and securely move and unload the vessels. The Vane Brothers Company, which has been serving the Port since 1898, is part of that team. Vane offers a wide range of logistics services designed to make a ship’s visit to Baltimore as seamless as possible.

“The essential work of the maritime industry has never been more important than in the last few months,” said Vane Capt. Jordan McCluskey, who has been with the company over 10 years. “It’s a proud feeling knowing that our crew has been out here working 24/7 to help keep the cargo moving in the Port of Baltimore.”

We agree. Safely delivered cargo, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, is extremely important and ensures grocers can stock their shelves, and PPE is available for those who need it the most.

McCluskey has lived in Baltimore County his entire life. His family operates McCluskey’s Marina in Sparrows Point, and he helps there when he’s not piloting Vane’s tugboat, Cape May. His father, Mark McCluskey, is also a Vane Brothers captain, operating the Cape May or the launch boat MV Carlyn.

The 3,000-horsepower Cape May, which is based at the Port, transports oil barges with 400,000-to-1.2 million gallons of oil for refueling cargo vessels. Jordan McCluskey loves the work.

“First off, it’s a top-notch boat and a great crew,” he said. “And since I’ve always lived in this area, I know how fortunate I am to be able to remain close to home, working for a very supportive company at such a dynamic port.”

There are two crews that alternate on the Cape May, meaning McCluskey and others work two weeks on/two weeks off, which means they get to go home between jobs instead of living on the tugboat. McCluskey’s crew has included licensed engineer Ernest Hardy Jr. and deckhands Tom Patzold and Glen Scroggins for the past two years.

Besides supplying and distributing fuel (a practice known as bunkering), Vane Brothers in Baltimore also provides lightering services (transferring cargo between vessels to reduce a larger ship’s draft), launch services and operations expertise.

The company was founded by Capts. William B. Vane and his brother, Allen P. Vane, as a ship chandlery, a retailer that sells supplies and equipment to ships. Over the years, Vane Brothers grew into a diverse marine transportation provider with locations along the East and West coasts and a fleet of more than 130 vessels, according to its website. The company’s headquarters are within the Port of Baltimore at Pointe Lookout, which offers a view of the Patapsco River and Seagirt Marine Terminal.

“Vane Brothers has a long and storied history at the Port of Baltimore,” said Richard Scher, spokesman for the MDOT Maryland Port Administration. “For more than a century, Vane Brothers has been assisting ships’ arrivals and departures to and from the Port in myriad ways. They are the definition of a multi-faceted company and one of the key reasons why the Port of Baltimore has a strong reputation for its logistics capabilities.”

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