Largest-ever containership in U.S. coming to Port of Oakland

Press Release

For Immediate Release
December 14, 2015

Largest-ever containership in U.S. coming to Port of Oakland

Benjamin Franklin is 1,300-feet-long, carries 18,000 20-foot containers

Oakland, CA – December 14, 2015: The largest containership to ever visit the U.S. is scheduled to arrive here New Year’s Eve, the Port of Oakland announced today.  The Port said the 1,300-foot-long Benjamin Franklin will make a one-day stop on its maiden voyage.  Its arrival could forever change the nature of trade between the U.S. and Asia.

“Nothing this big has ever been seen in our country,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle.  “There’s no doubt others will follow suit and we’re gratified that Oakland is one of the only ports in the U.S. ready to receive them.”

The Franklin, operated by Marseille-based shipping line CMA CGM, is the world’s 10th largest containership. It was launched from a Chinese shipyard last month.  CMA CGM said it will deploy the vessel on a regularly scheduled service between California, China and South Korea.

The Franklin is euphemistically called a megaship or ultra large container carrier.  It can hold up to 18,000 20-foot shipping containers.  The largest ships currently serving this country carry 14,000 containers. The Franklin’s first visit to Oakland is considered a trial-run. Officials want to ensure that the vessel can be berthed and cargo discharged efficiently.

Oakland is one of a handful of U.S. ports that can receive megaships.  Most other ports lack sufficient water depth for the deep-draft vessels.  Gulf and East Coast ports are further limited by the Panama Canal.  Even though the Canal is expanding, it won’t be big enough to accommodate the ocean-going giants from Asia.

Oakland has invested millions in recent years to prepare for big ships.  The steps have included:

  • Dredging berths and channels to 50-foot depths;
  • Raising the height of cranes that load and unload vessels; and
  • Modernizing marine terminals to handle increased import and export volumes.

Until now, vessels the size of the Benjamin Franklin have been deployed exclusively in the Asia-Europe trade.  It’s the world’s busiest container shipping route.  But ocean carriers are eager to extend the reach of megaships to the Trans-Pacific lane.  That’s because bigger ships provide economies of scale. Since they’re newer, they also burn less fuel and produce fewer exhaust emissions than older vessels.

The Port of Oakland said the Benjamin Franklin is scheduled to berth at about 8 a.m. Dec. 31.

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.

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Robert Bernardo,
Communications Manager
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1401

Marilyn Sandifur,
Port Spokesperson
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1193

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