Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Biggest Ever Container Ship to Call at California Port this Week

At 19,200 TEU MSC Anna Sets a New Record for Oakland
Shipping News Feature

US – This week, amidst all the confusion, sanctions and isolationary behaviour we are seeing as a result of the epidemic there is no clearer evidence that world trade continues regardless than the arrival of the largest vessel ever to call at the Port of Oakland, the MSC Anna scheduled to berth on April 16.

The huge ship will tie up at Oakland International Container Terminal on the Oakland Estuary. The Port said that the 1,312-foot-long vessel is on special assignment from Geneva-based shipping line Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC). It’s collecting a backlog of empty containers in Southern California before arriving in Oakland, and is scheduled to spend 24 hours discharging import containers and loading exports.

The MSC Anna can carry up to 19,200 20-foot cargo containers. That makes it one of the largest vessels ever to visit a North American port, bigger than the previous record holder, the 18,000 TEU CMA Benjamin Franklin, which came to Oakland in 2016. The arrival is a boost for the California port which, like so many others, has seen recent cargo volume declines from the coronavirus pandemic but still harbours ambitions of growth.

Over the past decade, the Port has dredged waterways and raised container cranes to receive so-called megaships. The largest cargo vessels anywhere in North America arrive in Oakland daily and San Francisco Bar Pilots, who navigate ships in and out of San Francisco Bay, say they’ve undertaken extensive planning with the Port and MSC to prepare for the arrival of the MSC Anna.

According to Joseph Long, President of the Bar Pilots Association, preparations for the MSC Anna’s arrival included computer simulations at the Cal State Maritime Academy in Vallejo. The simulations contributed to a better understanding of navigational demands created by megaships, he explained:

“The San Francisco Bay is one of the most challenging pilotage grounds in the world and safely piloting these huge ships requires expertise and significant training. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of the global supply chain to our region’s economy. We are pleased to continue our tradition of safety and service to support this vital part of the infrastructure.”

All the work that goes into the safe turnaround of such modern vessels was summed up by Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan who said that the Port has spent years, and millions of dollars keeping ahead of the pace of trade and the size of ships, adding that it is ready for the visit of the MSC Anna and would welcome her back at any time.