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Next record-breaking ship due in port Thursday

  • The OOCL France moves into the locks at the Panama Canal last week, breaking the COSCO Development’s record as the largerst ship to transit the new locks. The France, which can hold nearly 14,000 itwenty-foot container units, will call on the Port of Savannah Thursday. (Photo courtesy Panama Canal Authority)

Eventually, the sight of huge container ships gliding up the Savannah River will become so commonplace as to warrant barely a notice. But for now, ship watchers and tourists along the riverfront are getting ready to greet the latest record-breaking container vessel.

The OOCL France, now the largest ship ever to call on the East Coast, snatched that title from the COSCO Development less than a month after she claimed it.

Only slightly larger than the Development, the France is 1,203 feet long and 159 feet wide. She is capable of carrying 13,208 TEUs, some 200 more than the Development.

According to Ship Operations at Georgia Ports Authority, the France should begin transit from the channel entrance at 1 p.m. Thursday, passing River Street between 3 and 3:30 p.m. and docking at Garden City Terminal between 4:30 and 5 p.m.

Crews from GPA and ILA Locals 1414 and 1475, under the direction of stevedores from Ceres Marine Terminals are expected to begin working the ship around 7 p.m.

According to Georgia Ports, some 5,366 containers are expected to be moved off and on the ship before it sets sail for Charleston sometime early Saturday morning.

Like the Development, the France is part of a regular rotation deployed in the OCEAN Alliance’s new South Atlantic Express Service, or SAX, which will bring massive ships into the Port of Savannah every three weeks from the Port of Virginia.

From Charleston, the France will head out to sea, setting sail for the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa en route to Asia. Like the Development before her, the France won’t be calling on the Port of New York/New Jersey, as it is too large to fit under the Bayonne Bridge.

Work to raise that bridge is currently underway.

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