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Cosco Development Shipping Container carrier

The Port of Virginia Receives its Largest Container Ship Yet

When the catchily-named, COSCO Development, arrived at the Port of Virginia during the first week in May, it became the biggest ship of any kind to dock there. This beast of a container ship dwarfs many aircraft carriers and is actually a full 100-feet longer than our navy’s recently launched USS Gerald R. Ford carrier.

A True Monster of the Seas

At a massive 1,200-foot in length (over three football fields!) and 158-foot wide, the COSCO Development is an awesome sight to behold. Within the shipping industry, container vessels are measured in TEU’s (twenty-foot equivalent units) and this ship can hold a remarkable 13,092 shipping containers. Despite its impressive scale, the COSCO is itself dwarfed by a number of similar monsters, including the OOCL Hong Kong at 21,413 TEU’s, 1,311-foot in length and 193-foot beam.

Cosco Development Shipping Container carrier

The South Atlantic Express

The ship is deployed on the commercially important SAX ocean run, connecting Charleston, Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo and Shanghai via the Panama Canal, and transporting thousands of tons of cargo each year. The epic journey takes approximately 28 days, depending on sea conditions, and includes stop-offs at Wilmington and Savannah before heading south to Central America then west across the Pacific.

Large Container Ships Require Deep-Water Harbours

The fast-growing Port of Virginia is a globally important staging post for cargo moving up and down the Atlantic seaboard and across the ocean. It has some pretty impressive statistics, including 50-foot deep berths to handle large container vessels, such as recent visitor, the COSCO Development. The port has six terminals in total, spread over 1,864 acres and linked by 30 miles of rail track for the easy movement of shipping containers. Unlike many ports, there are no overhead restrictions like static bridges, which offers Virginia a significant commercial advantage over many of its east coast rivals.

Port of Virginia aerial shot The Port of Virginia is known as a ‘hub port’ and as many as 30 international shipping lines offer direct, regular services to over 200 countries across the globe, including the United Kingdom, China and India. In an average week, 40 international shipping container, breakbulk and roll-on/roll-off vessels are processed at the six terminals.

Imports and Exports

Virginia’s six terminals handle a wide variety of imports, including mineral fuel and oil; grains, seeds and fruit; wood and wood pulp; food waste and animal feed. On the other side of the coin, it exports a wide range of machinery, furniture, salt, chemicals, beverages and wood every year.

One of the Largest Employers in Virginia

Such a huge complex of terminals demands a large number of longshoremen and ancillary services to keep it running smoothly 24/7 and 365 days of the year. A recent economic study revealed that 374,000 jobs are linked to the Port of Virginia in one way or another, which represents almost 10% of the State of Virginia’s workforce. This generates over $17 billion dollars of income and approximately $104 billion in tax revenue.