The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) welcomed the largest vessel ever to call on the Port of Savannah recently when the 8,500-TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) M/V CMA CGM Figaro docked at Garden City Terminal.
“The future of shipping is here today,” said GPA’s Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz. “The arrival of the Figaro is a view into the future of shipping between Asia and the U.S. East Coast once the new locks on the Canal become operational in 2014/2015.”
The Figaro, at nearly 1,100 feet long with a 140-foot beam, was the largest CMA CGM container ship ever to call on the United States, when it visited the U.S. West Coast in June 2010. It is one of the most technologically advanced, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vessels in the market today and was built by Samsung Heavy Industry in South Korea.
“CMA CGM is honored to participate with the GPA in the official welcoming ceremony marking the arrival of the 8,500-TEU CMA CGM Figaro,” said Frank J. Baragona, President, CMA CGM (America) LLC. “The CMA CGM Figaro marks a new era in global container shipping capacity serving Savannah and the South Atlantic Regional markets and represents our commitment to expansion and growth in the U.S. trades.”
The Figaro is part of the Columbus Loop service, which has been calling on Savannah since June 2009. Its rotation includes Shanghai, Ningbo, Hong Kong, Yantian, Tanjung Pelepas, New York, N.Y., Norfolk, Va., Savannah, Ga., Seattle, Wash., Vancouver, Canada and Yokohama.
“The Figaro comes to us through the Suez Canal, but will be restricted in its loading capacity in Savannah from its designed draft of 49.5 feet,” said Foltz. “The Figaro is a current reminder of why the deepening of our waterways is so critical to economic and job growth for our region.”
In order to more efficiently handle vessels like the Figaro, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) will deepen the river from its current 42 foot depth to as much as 48 feet. This project – one of the most important and productive civil works projects in the country – will maintain and create jobs and commerce throughout the region.
Almost $40 million has been spent on environmental and other work associated with the SHEP. The results of these studies will help to ensure that all of the impacts associated with the project will be avoided, reduced or mitigated. The SHEP is widely supported by Georgia’s state leadership, which has appropriated $105 million of construction funds to date.
“The visit by CMA CGM Figaro signifies the importance of the deepening project for Georgia, the Southeast and the entire nation,” said GPA’s Chairman of the Board Alec L. Poitevint. “With 70 percent of the US population served by the East Coast ports, it is critical that our infrastructure is ready for these vessels to efficiently deliver commerce to the majority of the American population. This port has the facility and the equipment to handle the largest vessels calling on the U.S. East Coast.”
CMA CGM, based in Marseille, France, is the world’s third largest container shipping company. It operates 352 vessels on 170 shipping routes linking 150 countries.