Largest cargo vessel to visit U.S. arrives Monday at Northwest Seaport Alliance’s Terminal 18; Puget Sound gateway preparing to serve big ships of the future to grow cargo volumes and jobs
The largest cargo ship to visit the United States
, the CMA CMG Benjamin Franklin, arrived Monday at The Northwest Seaport Alliance’s Terminal 18 in Seattle.
The Benjamin Franklin has capacity for 18,000 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), more than double the cargo of most container ships calling at Northwest Seaport Alliance terminals. If laid end-to-end, the 18,000 TEUs would stretch from Tacoma to Everett, a distance of about 68 miles.
At 1,310 feet long and 177 feet wide, the Benjamin Franklin is longer than two Space Needles or five Boeing 747s
placed along its length.
Mega-ships like the Benjamin Franklin are entering the trans-Pacific trade sooner than expected, as shipping lines seek increased economies of scale to reduce operating costs and environmental impact. Last fall, the NWSA welcomed two 11,400-TEU vessels, the CMA CGM Callisto and CMA CGM Cassiopea, and 10,000-TEU ships call regularly in the North and South harbors.
“The entire cargo industry is upsizing to big ships. To keep the Puget Sound gateway competitive, we must invest in our terminal facilities and road and rail networks to efficiently handle these larger vessels and additional cargo,” said John Creighton, president of the Port of Seattle Commission.
The larger vessels require terminals with deeper berths, stronger piers and bigger container cranes. The NWSA’s 10-year strategic plan identifies key investments in our facilities to meet customer needs and grow jobs, including planned upgrades in the North Harbor’s Terminal 5 and South Harbor’s Terminal 4.
These complement investments already made by SSA Marine and the NWSA to make Terminal 18 big-ship ready now. Additionally, the Seattle home port and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are halfway through a deepening feasibility study to evaluate alternatives for deepening the navigation channels in the East & West Waterways up to 55 feet.
“A vibrant, growing maritime sector is good for Washington state, where 40 percent of jobs are tied to international trade,” said Connie Bacon, president of the Port of Tacoma Commission. “We are committed to doing our part to create more jobs and economic opportunities for the region, and supporting a great quality of life for the Puget Sound region.”
According to a 2013 study, NWSA marine cargo operations support 48,000 jobs in the Puget Sound and generate nearly $4.3 billion in economic activity. If we factor in the farmers and manufacturers who ship products through the two harbors, NWSA's activities reach 443,000 jobs across the state.
“I’m proud to welcome the Benjamin Franklin to Washington state, because it shows the world that we are big-ship ready and open for business supporting the efficient, clean and prosperous shipping trends of the future," said Gov. Jay Inslee.
“The arrival of the Benjamin Franklin highlights the critical role ports play in supporting jobs and economic growth in Washington state and the nation," said Sen. Patty Murray. "As The Northwest Seaport Alliance works to compete in the global marketplace, I will continue to advocate for federal policies that better support our ports’ sustained growth and success.”
“This is a significant milestone for the Port of Seattle and Washington state. This mega ship demonstrates that Washington's ports and maritime industry remain a leader in global trade," said Sen. Maria Cantwell. "The Benjamin Franklin further proves that when we make smart investments in our freight infrastructure, we can create more jobs and have more containers moving through our ports. Moving forward, we must continue our efforts to reform the harbor maintenance tax to help Washington ports compete in the global economy. At the end of the day, the faster freight moves, the faster Washington’s economy will grow.”