ProvPort operator partners with Seattle-based company

WATERSON TERMINAL SERVICES,LLC, the operating company of ProvPort, is entering into a partnership with a Seattle-based container shipping firm. / COURTESY PROVPORT INC.

PROVIDENCE –  A private Seattle-based company is partnering with Waterson Terminal Services LLC, the company that operates ProvPort Inc., formerly known as the port of Providence.

According to a press release Friday, Waterson Terminal Services LLC is entering into an agreement with SSA Marine Inc., which will invest in the facilities while creating a joint venture to “support its continued growth as a leading provider of terminal management and stevedoring services for bulk, breakbulk, automobile and offshore wind customers in New England.”

Terms of the transaction, expected to close by the end of December, were not disclosed. Spokesperson for Waterson, Bill Fischer, said Friday that SSA Marine will have an ownership stake in in the company when the deal is completed, and the new entity will continue to operate as WTS.

“This will allow [Watson Terminal Services] to expand services regionally,” he said.

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As president of True North Communications, Fischer lobbies for both ProvPort Inc. and WTS and is paid $4,000 monthly from each entity, according to filings with the R.I. Department of State.

ProvPort Inc. in 2007 entered into a Terminal Management Agreement designating Waterson Terminal Services as the general manager and exclusive stevedore at the port.

According to its most recently available tax filings, ProvPort Inc. lost $1.8 million on $11.7 million of revenue  in fiscal 2022, its largest deficit in more than a decade. The nonprofit in January received a 30-year tax treaty from the city which increased its revenue contribution from 5% to 9%, with an expected payment between $800,000 and $1.1 million in the first year.

SSA Marine, a subsidiary of Carrix Inc., is now operating in more than 250 terminal and rail facilities in the U.S. and Asia. It is the largest privately owned U.S. container terminal operator and cargo handling company in the world, according to its website.

According to the announcement, part of the deal involves Waterson general manager, Chris Waterson, being promoted to CEO and president, a title that didn’t previously exist.

Waterson has served as general manager since 2007. In a statement on Friday he said the organization underwent “an extensive process to identify a strong partner that will help us achieve our strategic goals” and that SSA Marine “emerged as the ideal candidate.”

A spokesperson for SSA Marine did not respond to messages seeking comment. But Friday’s announcement included comments from President Lauren Offenbecher, who noted the investment in Providence is part of “expansion opportunities throughout the region.”

“This partnership will uniquely pair Waterson’s significant regional terminal expertise with SSA Marine’s rich history and global experience in marine terminal operations for the benefit of our local communities, customers, and employees for decades to come,” she said.

Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at  

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