The biggest ship ever to visit the U.S. East Coast will make its maiden call in Charleston, South Carolina next month after sailing through the expanded Panama Canal from China.
The MV Cosco Development, which measures 1,200 feet long and 158 feet wide, can transport up to 13,092 TEUs. It is scheduled to call at the South Carolina Ports Authority’s (SCPA) terminal in Charleston Harbor on May 13.
The vessel is deployed on the new OCEAN Alliance’s weekly South Atlantic Express (SAX) service, connecting Charleston with Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo and Shanghai via the Panama Canal. The SAX service is comprised of 11 vessels ranging in size from 11,000 to 13,000 TEUs.
The Cosco Development’s arrival in Charleston harbor follows years of infrastructure improvements undertaken by the SPSA in preparation for the opening of the expanded Panama Canal last June.
“SCPA has worked aggressively for years to ensure we can efficiently work 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) vessels and be the last Southeast port of call with no navigational issues,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “Our naturally wide and deepwater harbor, soon to be the deepest on the entire East Coast at 52 feet, can handle vessels the Development’s size loaded heavy with cargo. Coupled with our landside capacity and infrastructure, including new super post-Panamax cranes, we offer our export customers the opportunity to load their goods in Charleston before the vessel departs for its return to Asia. We also offer excellent transit times for import cargo bound for consumer markets across the Southeast.”
Following the opening of the Panama Canal expansion in 2016, at total of 18 of SCPA’s 24 weekly container vessel services are now comprised of ships too large to transit the Panama Canal before the expansion.
The COSCO Development’s visit is the first of many milestones ahead for SCPA. This fall the SCPA will mark the beginning of the construction phase of the Harbor Deepening Project, which will deepen the navigational channel to 52 feet. Within the next year, a $44 million project to modernize and strengthen the wharf at SCPA’s Wando Welch Terminal will be completed and two new ZPMC super post-Panamax cranes will be delivered from China, complementing the two cranes of this size already in operation.
On Tuesday, the South Carolina Ports Authority announced its strongest monthly container volume in its history, with 192,411 twenty foot-equivalent units (TEUs) handled in March. In 2016 the SCPA achieved a record container volume of nearly two million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled.