CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin Pulled from Trans-Pacific Market, Ending U.S. West Ports’ Mega-Ship Plans

Mike Schuler
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May 11, 2016

CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin at the port of Long Beach for its inauguration in February. Photo credit: Port of Long Beach

French container shipping company has pulled the 18,000 TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin from the trans-pacific market, officially ending – or at least postponing – U.S. west coast ports’ plans to host so-called mega-ships.

Beginning later this month, the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin will be redeployed on CMA CGM’s FAL 1 service connecting Asia with northern Europe, according to the company’s website.

The Benjamin Franklin made its U.S. debut in late December as the largest ship ever to call in North America. The calls were meant as the first in a series of trial runs at U.S. west coast ports – specifically Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, and one stop in Seattle – in order test the ports’ ability to handle the mega-ships that until then had only been deployed between Asia and northern Europe.

The trial runs were deemed a success, leading CMA CGM to announce in March that it would deploy a total of six 18,000 TEU ships on its Pearl River Express line, describing the trans-Pacific market “the most active and dynamic market to date”. But within just six weeks, CMA CGM said it was cancelling those plans citing weak conditions in the market.

According to CMA CGM’s website, the Benjamin Franklin is to begin service on the FAL 1 route on May 23 in Shanghai and ending in Southampton July 3.

And just like that, no more mega-ships in the United States.

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