The Port of Long Beach last week welcomed the largest container ship ever to call to North America, the MSC Fabiola. The vessel, measuring 1,200 feet in length and capable of carrying more than 12,000 container units, docked at Pier T on Terminal Island.
“This is the largest container vessel now serving the U.S.-Asia trade, and the fact that it is calling to the Port of Long Beach is significant,” says J. Christopher Lytle, port executive director. “Few ports can handle these giant ships. Long Beach is big-ship-ready, and we continue to invest so we’ll be ready for the next generation of larger, environmentally friendlier and more efficient cargo ships.”
The MSC Fabiola is capable of carrying 12,500 20-foot equivalent units, a measurement of cargo containers. Currently, the larger container ships typically serving Asia and North America have capacities of about 8,000 TEUs. Larger ships are more cost-effective for ocean carriers and reduce impact on the environment by decreasing diesel consumption.
However, few ports in the world have navigation channels deep enough to handle these massive ships. The Port of Long Beach’s main channel is 76 feet deep, the deepest in North America. The port is investing $4.5 billion over the next decade to modernize its facilities.