The 13,000-TEU ship — able to handle more than 13,000 20-foot equivalent containers — will make its last East Coast port call in Charleston Harbor before heading back to Asia, according to the S.C. State Ports Authority.
The ship measures 1,200 feet long — as long as the Eiffel Tower is tall — and 158 feet wide.
The previous largest ships to call on the port were the APL Yangshan and the APL Barcelona, 10,700-TEU ships that first called on the port in the fall, according to the ports authority.
Larger ships are trending in the shipping industry, spurring major infrastructure improvements, terminal renovations and equipment purchases.
The Panama Canal expansion was needed to handle the bigger ships. Currently, 18 of the 24 container vessels calling on the Port of Charleston each week would not have fit through the Panama Canal without the expansion, the port said.
The Bayonne Bridge between New York and New Jersey is also being raised, and Charleston Harbor is set to be deepened to 52 feet.
The deepening project has been approved by regulators and received state funding; the project still awaits federal funding. Dredging for the project is set to begin this fall.
The Cosco Development is deployed on the weekly Ocean Alliance South Atlantic Express service connecting Charleston with Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo and Shanghai in China via the Panama Canal, according to the port.
“The arrival of the Cosco Development at East Coast ports marks a new era,” ports CEO Jim Newsome said in a news release. “Seeing a 13,000-TEU vessel in our harbor is a tangible reflection that our vision and capital investments to be big-ship-ready are absolutely critical.”
Newsome said Charleston Harbor can handle the large vessel loaded with cargo, and the port’s new, 155-foot-tall cranes can work the ship. The ship is set to arrive in Charleston May 14. Track the ship’s voyage online.