Georgia Ports welcomes largest ship to date


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CMA CGM Marco Polo is 1,300-feet long, has capacity of 16,000 TEUs

On a balmy May morning, thousands of excited spectators lined the historic streets along the Savannah riverfront to watch history in action. As she emerged from the shipping channel, the massive CMA CGM Marco Polo elicited gasps and cheers from the crowds witnessing her maiden voyage to the Port of Savannah.

The fanfare created a celebratory atmosphere on River Street, something that stood out to Georgia Ports Executive Director Griff Lynch as he accompanied the Marco Polo to Garden City Terminal, the largest single-operator container facility of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

“There’s no other port where you can take a 16,000 TEU vessel right by the waterfront,” Lynch said. “We have so many tourists in Savannah that come and see something so unique. It’s something you couldn’t ever see anywhere else.”

At 1,300-feet long, the Marco Polo now holds the distinction of being the largest vessel to ever call the U.S. East Coast. With a capacity of 16,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units, the Marco Polo edges CMA CGM’s previous record holder, the 15,000-TEU Brazil, which called Savannah in September.

CMA CGM America President Ed Aldridge said there are many reasons why the Port of Savannah is special for the ocean carrier. Aldridge said with a container yard of more than 1,300 acres, the Port of Savannah is a hub for global trade.

“Many of us have had the opportunity to work together for years, and that builds a level of trust,” Aldridge said. “When you take that factor of working together with that trust, and put that together with how the port has executed CMA CGM over the years, they’ve done an incredible job.”  

While in Savannah, GPA personnel and its logistics partners handled nearly 3,500 containers. The Marco Polo is deployed on the AWE3/Columbus service, which connects the U.S. East Coast and Asia via the Suez Canal, with cross-Pacific links to the U.S. West Coast. The AWE3/Columbus service includes 19 vessels ranging in size from 10,000 TEUs to 16,000 TEUs.

“Thank you for bringing the Marco Polo to Savannah. We really appreciate it,” Lynch told CMA CGM officials during an on-dock event celebrating the vessel’s arrival. “People now recognize Savannah as one of the best ports in the world and we want to maintain that status.”