A number of ports on the East Coast welcomed the largest container ships ever at its docks following the opening of the newly expanded Panama Canal in June.
On July 8 the first vessel to call on any East Coast port the 10000 TEUs Mol Benefactor arrived at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
“Today’s ship call validates that we are open for business and that we are big ship ready now that the Panama Canal project is complete. We look forward to handling even more megaships at our terminals in the Port of New York and New Jersey once the Bayonne Bridge is raised by the end of next year” said Port Authority Port Commerce Director Molly Campbell. The $1.3 billion project will increase the navigational clearance under the bridge from 151 feet to 215 feet
In addition a 10-year project to deepen the harbor’s channels to 50 feet will be completed this summer.
South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) President and CEO Jim Newsome said “SCPA is already benefiting from the upsizing of vessels in response to the expansion with 16 of the 26 weekly container vessel calls in Charleston now being served by large ships formerly known as post-Panamax. The arrival of the first 8500-class vessel to pass through the newly-expanded Panama Canal locks bound for Charleston is a mile-stone for our port and maritime industry. ”
The Hannover Bridge which arrived July 14 is an 8200 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) vessel. SCPA expects to handle its first 14000 TEU vessel call later this year. Charleston is currently the deepest harbor in the Southeast routinely handling ships more than 1100 feet long and 150 feet wide with drafts up to 48 feet. The Post 45 deepening project will make it the deepest on the East Coast.
The Port of Savannah welcomed its largest ship July 13. “Over the next six months to a year we expect a higher ratio of 8000- to 10000- TEU container ships among our vessels calls. Within two years we expect market shifts to send 12000-TEU vessels to the U.S. East Coast” Lynch added.
To better accommodate the larger vessels via water the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) will deepen the inner harbor to 47 feet and the outer harbor to 49 feet at mean low water. The outer portion of the harbor is now 15 percent complete.