Mediterranean Shipping Co.'s MSC Beatrice
became the largest container vessel ever to berth at a North American port when it arrived at the Port of Long Beach with a load of cargo on Sunday.
Early this year vessels in the 12,500-TEU range began calling Long Beach, but the MSC Beatrice
has a capacity of 13,798 shipping units, according to the Long Beach port authority.
The giant box ship is being worked at Pier T on Terminal Island, which is operated by Hanjin's Total Terminals International.
In recent years, the largest containerships visiting U.S. ports were in the 8,000-TEU class, and more recently carriers have put some 10,000-TEU vessels into service in the transpacific market.
The Port of Long Beach in Southern California has for the past year trumpeted its deep harbor and infrastructure that enable it to immediately handle the biggest vessels, indirectly suggesting that East and Gulf coast ports don't allow carriers and shippers to take advantage of the big ships' economies of scale because they are playing catch up with infrastructure upgrades. Eastern ports are scrambling to dredge navigational channels to 50 feet, install long-reach cranes, expand and strengthen berths, add extra yard space and on-dock rail, and make other improvements in time for the opening of an expanded set of locks in the Panama Canal that will enable 12,500-TEU vessels to transit to and from Asia.
The Port of Long Beach has a 76-foot main channel.
Built in South Korea in 2009, the Beatrice
arrived from Yantian and is due to continue next to Oakland. The vessel is deployed on the six-ship Pearl River service offered by MSC and partner CMA CGM. Maersk Line, ANL, and U.S. Line take slots on the service. - Eric Kulisch
and Eric Johnson