First Ultra-Large Containership Visits U.S. East Coast Ports

CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt calls at the Port of Virginia on August 28, 2017. Photo: Port of Virginia

The 14,414 TEU CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt has set a new record as the largest capacity containership to ever visit the U.S. east coast after calling at the ports of Virginia (Norfolk), Savannah, and Charleston in recent days.

After setting a record as the largest ship to pass through the Panama Canal in August, the CMA CGM made its east coast debut at in Norfolk Harbor at the Port of Virginia on August 28, where it loaded and unloaded approximately 3,000 containers.

The containership then sailed for the Port of Savannah, where it arrived September 1, followed by the Port of Charleston on September 2. She actually skipped her September 2 port call but we are told she will stop on in Charleston on the return leg. 

With a capacity of 14,414 TEU, the 1,200-foot-long (366m) CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt is the first Ultra Large Container Vessel to ever visit the U.S. east coast. ULCVs are categorized as having more than 14,000 TEU capacity.

The Theodore Roosevelt is deployed on the new OCEAN Alliance’s weekly South Atlantic Express (SAX) service, which connects Asia and U.S. East Coast ports (Norfolk, Savannah, Charleston) via the Panama Canal. The SAX service includes 11 vessels ranging in size from 11,000 to 14,000 TEUs.

The containership is now headed for the port of New York and New Jersey where it will inaugurate the raising of the Bayonne Bridge on September 7.

The $1.6 billion Bayonne Bridge clearance project was completed in June following four years of planning and construction. The U.S. Coast Guard certified the bridge’s new navigational clearance at 215 feet (equivalent to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge), which will allow vessels up to 18,000 TEUs to transit underneath it to port terminals.

The Bayonne Bridge’s lower roadway removal was completed seven months ahead of schedule, increasing clearance capacity from 151 feet. The raising of the bridge allows the nation’s third-largest port to accept ships larger than 9,500 TEU for the first time.

Since the opening of the Expanded Panama Canal in June 2016, U.S. east coast ports have seen the arrival of increasingly larger containerships. In May 2017, the MV COSCO Development became the first 13,000 TEU containership to call on the east coast.