The Cosco Development became the largest cargo ship to dock along several East Coast ports last week, the first of many expected visits following completion of the Panama Canal expansion project.
From bow-to-stern, the massive vessel is 1,200 ft. in length and can carry 13,000 twenty-ft. equivalent unit containers (TEUs).
It first pulled into the Virginia International Gateway in Portsmouth, VA, last week to unload about 1,500 TEUs and then sailed to the Port of Savannah, GA.
“The Cosco Development is the start of a new era in the East Coast container trade,” explained Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, in a statement. “With their shift to larger, more cost-effective vessels, the shipping lines are gravitating toward gateway ports.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal attended a ceremony at the port to welcome the ship, which spent 30 hours at dock as six cranes moved the containers.
About 2,400 TEUs were unloaded with an equivalent amount loaded back into the vessel.
The Cosco Development has about 30% more capacity than the record-breaking ship that sailed into Savannah last summer, port officials said.
A third stop over the weekend was made at Port of Charleston, SC, prior to setting sail for Asia. Charleston officials said they are in talks with ocean liners to bring in ships loaded with up to 18,000 cargo containers before the end of the year.
Other East Coast ports are still undertaking dredging and related infrastructure projects in order to handle the larger ships that can now navigate through the Panama Canal to access the East Coast.
The Port of New York/New Jersey, the largest along the East Coast, cannot yet handle a ship such as the Development. It is restricted because of the height of the Bayonne Bridge. However, New Jersey is in the middle of a project to raise the bridge, enabling ships with capacities of up to 18,000 TEUs to pass under it.