The largest cargo ship to visit the United States, the CMA CMG Benjamin Franklin, arrived at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 18 for the first time on Feb. 29, a few days after making its first-ever voyage to the Port of Long Beach.
The Benjamin Franklin has capacity for 18,000 TEUs, which is more than double the cargo of most container ships calling at terminals in Puget Sound. If laid end-to-end, 18,000 TEUs would stretch from Tacoma to Everett, a distance of about 68 miles. At 1,310 feet long and 177 feet wide, the Benjamin Franklin is longer than two Space Needles or five Boeing 747s placed along its length.
At the Port of Long Beach, the Benjamin Franklin visited SSA Marine’s Pacific Container Terminal from Feb. 18-24, loading and offloading almost 13,000 containers.
The vessel made its maiden voyage to the United States last December. It called at the Port of Los Angeles on Dec. 26 and the Port of Oakland on Dec. 31, making it the largest container ship of this capacity ever to call at any port in the United States. It returned to Oakland Feb. 25.
The vessel, operated by France-based shipping line CMA CGM, is the world’s 10th largest containership, at 399.2 meters (about 1,310 feet) by 54 meters (177 feet). It was launched from a Chinese shipyard in November and delivered Dec. 4.
Mega-ships like the Benjamin Franklin are entering the trans-Pacific trade sooner than expected, as shipping lines seek increased economies of scale to reduce operating costs and environmental impact. Last fall, the Seattle-Tacoma port complex welcomed two 11,400-TEU vessels, the CMA CGM Callisto and CMA CGM Cassiopea. Also, 10,000-TEU ships call regularly in the complex’s North and South harbors.