The largest cargo ship ever to visit ports on the US East Coast arrived earlier this month at the Port of Savanna.
The COSCO Development is so long the Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument could fit end-to-end along its deck and still leave room for Big Ben.
The giant ship cruised past dozens of onlookers who cheered and took photos from the riverfront.
Its first East Coast voyage marks a new era for US ports.
Many ports will struggle to accommodate the supersized ships without major infrastructure improvements.
At 366m bow-to-stern, the COSCO Development is longer than the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford. It can carry 13,000 cargo containers measuring 20 feet long. That’s 30 percent more capacity than the last record-breaking ship that sailed into Savannah last summer.
The big ship, flagged out of Hong Kong and owned by China-based COSCO Shipping Lines, is also the largest to pass through the Panama Canal following a major expansion last year.
Its arrival on the East Coast shows shippers aren’t waiting for the seaports scrambling to deepen their harbours so the larger ships can pass fully loaded at low tide.
The Port of Virginia, where the ship docked earlier this week, is one of only four East Coast ports with the desired 50 feet (15m) of depth at low tide. A $973 million deepening of Savannah’s shipping channel started in 2015 but won’t be finished for about five more years.
The Port of Charleston, South Carolina, where the big ship will head next before returning to Hong Kong, plans to start its own dredging later this year.
Overall, 15 US seaports on the East and Gulf coasts are seeking $4.6 billion after being authorized by Congress to make room for bigger ships. Only three of those have cleared the permit requirements needed to start digging, said Jim Walker, navigation policy director for the American Association of Port Authorities.
Meanwhile, the largest ships using the Panama Canal must carry lighter loads or wait for higher tides before calling on most US ports on the East Coast.
The COSCO Development had to make its 63km trip up the Savannah River at high tide to ensure it would fit. Its cargo deck was about 80-percent full, said Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.
Dockworkers using six cranes were needed to load and unload about 5,600 total cargo containers from the giant ship.
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Source: GeorgiaBusinessUSA on YouTube, Dynamic Export