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18,000 teu ship call a game changer for the transpacific

Transpacific trades are set for a huge change with news CMA CGM will deploy its newest megaship on a call to the US West Coast. The Chinese-built 18,000 teu CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin will call at Los Angeles and Oakland towards the end of December, becoming the largest boxship ever to call at any US port.

Jacques Saade, group chairman and ceo of the French line, said the move reflected CMA CGM’s faith in the long-term growth potential of the US economy, and its commitment to increasing its U.S. market share, something that is expected to grow exponentially with the just announced takeover of Neptune Orient Lines.

The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin will be deployed on the Pearl River Express, a service connecting the main China ports, including Xiamen, Nansha and Yantian, with the US West Coast ports.

“Its arrival could forever change the nature of trade between the US and Asia,” the Port of Oakland said in a release.

“Nothing this big has ever been seen in our country,” said Port of Oakland executive director Chris Lytle. “There’s no doubt others will follow suit and we’re gratified that Oakland is one of the only ports in the US ready to receive them.”

Were the sailing to go smoothly then other lines might look at redeploying some of their ships, providing much needed breathing space on Asia-Europe trades where all these megaships have been deployed to date.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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