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Biggest Ship to Visit North America Comes to Long Beach

New generation of larger, greener ships finds home at Port

September 28, 2012


The Port of Long Beach on Sunday, September 30, welcomed the MSC Beatrice, the largest cargo ship ever to visit any port in North America.

The vessel — 1,200 feet long, 167 feet wide and capable of carrying 13,798 container units — docked at Long Beach’s Pier T on Terminal Island.

“The new ships are bigger and greener and we’re pleased to be able to accommodate these vessels at the Port of Long Beach,” said Port Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle. “We’re among the few ports that are ‘big ship ready,’ and that means that we can continue to bring cargo to Long Beach in the most sustainable way possible.”

Until this year, the largest container ships serving North America had capacities of about 10,000 “TEUs,” or twenty-foot equivalent units. Ships carrying up to 12,500 TEUs began calling at the Port of Long Beach earlier in 2012, proving the Port’s ability to handle these megaships. The distinction is important for a seaport, because the trend in the shipping industry is to build larger and larger ships. The larger ships are more efficient and greener – the bigger loads mean less fuel is expended per container.

Built in South Korea in 2009 and operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Co. of Switzerland, the Beatrice is the latest of the new generation of big container ships to be put into service on U.S.-Asia trade routes. It's last port before Long Beach was Yantian, China. It’s due to depart Long Beach on Wednesday for the Port of Oakland.

Larger ships are more cost-effective for ocean carriers and reduce impacts on the environment by decreasing diesel consumption. However, few ports in the world have navigation channels deep enough to handle these massive ships. The Port of Long Beach’s main channel is 76 feet deep, the deepest in North America.

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s premier seaports, a primary gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a trailblazer in innovative goods movement, safety and environmental stewardship. With 140 shipping lines connecting Long Beach to 217 seaports worldwide, the Port handles trade valued at $155 billion each year and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in Southern California.

Watch video of the ship and an interview with the Port's Sean Strawbridge from Fox 11.

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