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East Coast ports welcome largest vessel

Ports of Halifax and New York/New Jersey salute the CMA CGM Brazil while Virginia and Charleston ready for arrival

The CMA CGM Brazil passes under the Bayonne Bridge on the way to APM Terminals Port Elizabeth. (Photo: Port of New York and New Jersey)

The CMA CGM Brazil became the largest vessel to call a U.S. East Coast port when the container ship, with a capacity of 15,072 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), arrived at the Port of New York and New Jersey on Saturday.

The 1,200-foot-long CMA CGM Brazil berthed at APM Terminals at the Elizabeth Port Authority Terminal. Port Director Sam Ruda and Deputy Director Bethann Rooney were on hand to welcome Capt. Biser Nikolaev Draganov and his crew and present a plaque to commemorate the CMA CGM Brazil’s inaugural visit. 

The port also shared video of the 167-foot-wide Brazil passing under the Bayonne Bridge. 

The CMA CGM Brazil operates on a service connecting the U.S. East Coast and Southeast Asia via the Suez Canal.

“The landmark arrival of the CMA CGM Brazil showcases the port’s ability to handle the world’s largest container ships, an outcome of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s key investments over the past few years,” the port said in a statement Monday. “Improvements such as the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Program, which increased the air draft of the bridge to 215 feet, in conjunction with other projects such as the harbor deepening program, which created a 50-foot-deep shipping channel, have readied the Port of New York and New Jersey to welcome the next generation of ultra-large container vessels.”

The Brazil sailed to the Port of New York and New Jersey from the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where it arrived at about midnight Thursday. 

Kim Holtermand, CEO and managing director of PSA Halifax, called it “a great honor to welcome the CMA CGM Brazil, the largest container ship of all time at any Canadian port.”

“The arrival of this ship soon after the delivery of our newest and largest crane demonstrates the benefits of our step-wise development of PSA Halifax,” Holtermand said in a statement. “With the support of our committed workforce and staff, the Halifax Port Authority, CN and our broad customer base and stakeholders, the call is testament of PSA Halifax’s ambition, opportunity and the great resolve within this port to be alongside creating lasting and sustainable growth.” 

The Brazil is scheduled to arrive at the Port of Virginia on Tuesday.

The Port of Virginia tweeted Monday that it was “ready to handle the largest vessels calling our coast, meet the growing needs of our customers, provide people with the goods they need and drive business to and through the commonwealth.”

Also ready to welcome the CMA CGM Brazil is the Port of Charleston, which will mark its largest ship to call on Sunday. 

The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) said it is able to handle a ship of the Brazil’s size “thanks to a wide and deep harbor, big-ship cranes and efficient operations.”

“CMA CGM is saving the deepest for last, with Charleston being the vessel’s last U.S. port of call before it heads overseas,” said the SCPA, which is following the Brazil’s progress on its website. 

The SCPA website also provides size comparisons. It says the CMA CGM Brazil is as long as the Eiffel Tower is tall. But it would take eight Statues of Liberty to equal the length of the huge ship. 

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Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

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Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.