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Port of Virginia handles box ship needing 49 feet of draft
Fourteen months after The Port of Virginia set a US East Coast record for handling a deep-draft container ship, the port on May 11th, broke its own record when an export-laden container ship set sail drafting 49 feet of water.
“Virginia’s 50-foot channel was put to the test again this past weekend and again, The Port of Virginia proved it can handle the biggest ships afloat,” said Rodney W. Oliver, executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.
For decades, Virginia’s 50-foot-deep shipping channels have accommodated heavily-laden coal colliers, but Saturday’s sailing of the MSC Chicago marked the deepest draft ever needed for a containership.
The MSC Chicago called APM Terminals in Portsmouth Friday, worked through the night and sailed Saturday morning. The Chicago is owned and operated by Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) and deployed in the ocean carrier’s Golden Gate Service, which links the US East Coast to the Far East via the Suez Canal. Virginia is the last North American stop on the Golden Gate Service before it heads back to the Far East.
“With Virginia being the last stop on the service, it allows export cargo to be collected in Virginia, loaded and immediately begin the export leg of the trip,” Oliver said. “This allows exports loaded in Virginia to reach their destination quicker because there are no other East
Coast port calls. The ocean carriers are taking advantage of our 50-foot-deep channels. That depth allows them to load heavy and begin to maximize the economics of operating its big ships.”
“As I send this email, I’m watching the MSC Chicago transit the waters of Virginia as the deepest container ship to ever leave The Port of Virginia, fully loaded with export cargo, with a sailing draft of 49’03” (15 meters)...its deepest draft possible and the deepest a container ship has ever left an East Coast port of the United States in history,” said William Cofer, president of the Virginia Pilot Association in an email to the Virginia Port Authority.
The port previous record was 48.5 feet set by the MSC Roma on March 1, 2012.
• The Chicago, built in 2005, has capacity for 9,178 TEUs.
• She measures approximately 1,102 feet long and 150 feet across the beam (width), or 18 containers across.
• These dimensions earn the Chicago the post-Panamax designation, meaning she is too large to transit the Panama Canal, under the waterway’s current configuration.
• The port rotation of the Golden Gate Service is: Hong Kong, Chiwan, Yantian, Shanghai, Ningbo, Singapore, Salalah, Suez Canal transit, New York, Norfolk, Baltimore, Savannah, Freeport (Bahamas), Charleston, Norfolk, Suez Canal transit, Jeddah, Colombo, Singapore, Chiwan and back to Hong Kong.
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