Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Long Beach Welcomes Largest-Ever Ship

The MSC Fabiola arrived at the Port of Long Beach March 16, making it the largest container ship ever to make a call to North America.

“This is the largest container vessel now serving the US-Asia trade, and the fact that it is calling to the Port of Long Beach is significant,” port Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle said.

The vessel, which measures 1,200 feet long by 157 feet wide and can carry more than 12,000 20-foot equivalent units, was built in 2010 and is operated by Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. It was brought in to Pier T on Terminal Island by Jacobsen Pilot Service.

The MSC Fabiola, which is scheduled to return to Pier T’s Total Terminals International facility monthly, previously served Asia-to-Europe trade routes; it’s making its maiden voyage in the trans-Pacific trade. It came from China’s Port of Yantian.

After unloading, and then loading more cargo, the ship departed Long Beach the evening of Monday, March 19.

Currently, the larger container ships typically serving Asia and North America have capacities of about 8,000 TEUs, but the MSC Fabiola’s arrival was the first of what’s expected to be a string of larger container ships to be deployed by ocean carriers in Pacific Rim routes.

Larger ships are more cost effective for ocean carriers, but few ports have deep enough navigation channels to handle these massive ships. The Port of Long Beach’s main channel is 76 feet deep, the deepest in North America.

“Long Beach is big ship ready, and we continue to invest so we’ll be ready for the next generation of larger, environmentally friendlier and more efficient cargo ships,” Lytle said.