Port of Oakland attracts “mega” container vessel
March 20, 2012
The Port of Oakland welcomes the largest containership ever to call any seaport in North America today.
As shippers speculate on the pending impact of the Panama Canal expansion on U.S. West Coast ports, Oakland is demonstrating that it can still attract “mega vessels” in the Asia Pacific trade.
The MSC Fabiola is a 12,562 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent-unit) vessel; an average container equals two TEUs. It is part of the fleet of the world’s second-largest shipping company, Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co SA. MSC is one of the Port of Oakland’s fastest-growing carriers.
The vessel will arrive from the Port of Long Beach tomorrow and will be berthed at Oakland International Container Terminal. It will depart Thursday for an 18-day trans-Pacific voyage to Fuzhou and then onto four other ports in China.
Walt Rakowich, co-chief executive officer of Prologis, told shippers attending the International Warehouse Logistics Association’s 2012 Convention in San Francisco, that there are too many “unknowns” associated with alternatives to West Coast port calls.
“We don’t know, for example, if the East Coast and Gulf ports will be able to handle the volume,” he said. “And the concentration of population and industry in California is hard to dismiss.”
The MSC Fabiola is almost a quarter mile long, more than the length of four football fields or about equal to the height of a 55-story building. If all of the containers that fit on the ship were put end to end, they would stretch almost 50 miles.
Generally, ships arriving at Oakland carry imports such as electronics, wood furniture, apparel, bedding, toys, sports equipment, auto parts, coffee, and bicycles. When they depart, they carry exports including dried fruit and nuts, wine, rice, cotton, recycled paper and metal scrap, machinery, chilled and frozen meat and poultry, and vehicles.
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