Mediterranean Shipping Co. said it is temporarily using several 8,085-TEU ships, the largest to call at U.S. East Coast ports, in a new weekly Suez Canal service linking Asia with New York-New Jersey, Baltimore, Norfolk and Charleston.
The first of the large ships in the service was the MSC Tomoko, which called at East Coast ports earlier this month. The MSC Rita was scheduled to arrive in Baltimore on Sunday following an initial stop in New York-New Jersey, and continue on to Norfolk and Charleston.
MSC plans to use the 8,085-TEU ships temporarily in its new GGS service before redeploying them to other routes, said Allen Clifford, the company’s executive vice president in New York.
MSC is solo operator of the GGS service, which will operate on a rotation of Shanghai, Ningbo, Chiwan and Yantian, China; Singapore; Salalah, Oman; Suez Canal; New York-New Jersey; Baltimore; Norfolk; Charleston; Freeport, Bahamas; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Singapore; Chiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The new service will provide a 21-day transit from Charleston, the last U.S. port, to Jeddah, the company said.
The arrival of the 8,085-TEU ships is a notable event for U.S. East Coast ports, which have been rushing to prepare for the larger ships that will be able to transit the Panama Canal after 2104 when a multibillion-dollar lock-expansion project is completed.
Baltimore officials said the MSC Rita is the largest ship the port can handle until it completes a 50-foot-deep berth being built at the Seagirt terminal under a 50-year lease agreement the Maryland Port Administration recently signed with Ports America Chesapeake. The 50-foot berth is scheduled for completion in time for the opening of the new locks in Panama.
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