Ocean-going ships travel to and from the Port of Baltimore by two routes.

Most travel to Baltimore through the southern approach commonly referred to as the 50-Foot Channel, a deep, north-south route extending 150 nautical miles from the Port of Baltimore to the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Henry, Virginia. Beginning in the 1970s, the 50-Foot Channel was dredged to a depth of 50 feet to accommodate the increasing size of cargo ships and is now one of only two 50-feet shipping channels on the East Coast in the United States. 

The second route is the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal, which is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The C&D Canal is a 14-mile commercial waterway that crosses the Delmarva Peninsula at the northernmost ends of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. The channel is 35 feet deep and carries 34% percent of the shipping traffic that moves to and from Baltimore. It provides a short efficient route for vessels that don't require the 50-feet depth of the southern approach. Detailed information about the C&D Canal is available from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Safe passage in and around the Port of Baltimore is guided by the Port of Baltimore Harbor Safety and Coordination Committee, which has been acknowledged as one the most efficient coordination groups in the country.

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Channel System Map: Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay