Big ships trending at the Port of Oakland

They’re 1,200-feet long and hold up to 14,000 20-foot cargo containers

Oakland, CA – May 13, 2015: Is bigger better? Hard to say. But it’s becoming a trend at the Port of Oakland. The Port said today that 16 big ships have called here in the past 30 days. It’s a sign that Oakland is fully engaged with the mega-ships changing the face of global trade.

“We have prepared for these ships and they’re here to stay,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “It’s gratifying to see our planning and advance work pay off.”

The Port said it is handling the largest container vessels to call U.S. ports. It defined big ships as those capable of carrying 10,000 or more 20-foot containers. Two Oakland arrivals last month, the MSC Regulus and the CMA CGM Margrit, hold up to 13,000 containers each.

The ability to service big ships is critical, the Port of Oakland said in a video released today. International shipping lines have migrated to the 1,200-foot-long behemoths for economies of scale and improved fuel efficiency. Portside communities like them because they producer fewer emissions per container carried. Ports that can’t handle big ships risk losing market share as containerized trade demand grows.

The first big ship to call Oakland, the MSC Fabiola, berthed in March of 2012. It carries up to 12,500 20-foot containers. In 2013 the MSC Beatrice became the largest vessel in Oakland. It holds 14,000 20-footers. The vessel is nearly a quarter-mile long. Its containers placed end-to-end would stretch more than 52 miles.

Oakland prepared for big ships by dredging approaches and berths to 50-foot depths over the last decade. It raised crane heights to reach over the mountains of containers stacked above vessel decks. It continues to refine marine terminal operations to improve landside cargo-handling speed.

The Port said vessels holding between 6,500 and 8,500 20-foot containers remain the norm in Oakland. But it added that the number of big ships calling here is growing. And it said the big ship migration will test marine terminals’ ability to load and unload vessels.

According to recent Port data, big ships spend 40-to-45 hours in Oakland discharging or loading cargo. Smaller ships usually depart in 35-to-39 hours. The Port said upcoming improvements designed to accelerate landside operations could help shorten berth time for larger ships. The steps include weekend gates and after-hour off-dock locations for cargo pick-up or delivery.

About the Port of Oakland:
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport, Oakland International Airport, and 20 miles of waterfront. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at

Media Contact:

Robert Bernardo
Communications Manager
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1401
Click here to contact Robert Bernardo

Marilyn Sandifur,
Port Spokesperson
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1193
Click here to contact Marilyn Sandifur

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