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TIN news:  A visual treat is expected to sail into the bay on New Year’s Eve to dock at the Port of Oakland — the largest container ship ever to visit the United States.
At 1,300 feet in length, the Benjamin Franklin would stand 50 feet higher than the Empire State Building. It can carry 18,000 20-foot-long cargo containers and is the world’s 10th-largest container ship. Most such ships coming into U.S. ports carry 14,000 containers.
The ship is scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m. on Dec. 31, but that might change by a day or two, said Robert Bernardo, the port’s communications manager.
He suggested good places to see the ship coming in would be from Treasure Island, the Bay Bridge bike lane or “anywhere near the Oakland Army Base.”
The Franklin, operated by Marseille-based shipping line CMA CGM, was launched from a Chinese shipyard in November. CMA CGM said the vessel will regularly serve California, China and South Korea.
The Franklin is called a megaship or ultra-large container carrier. Its visit to Oakland is considered a trial run to ensure that the port can berth it and take off its cargo.
Oakland is one of a handful of U.S. ports that can receive megaships, the port said in a news release. Most ports lack sufficient water depth for the deep-draft vessels. Ships going to Gulf and East Coast ports are limited by the Panama Canal’s width. Although the canal is expanding, it won’t be big enough to accommodate the oceangoing giants from Asia.
“Nothing this big has ever been seen in our country,” said Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle. “There’s no doubt others will follow suit, and we’re gratified that Oakland is one of the only ports in the U.S. ready to receive them.”
Oakland has invested millions of dollars in recent years to prepare for big ships. The port has dredged berths and channels to 50 feet deep, raised the height of cranes that load and unload vessels, and is modernizing marine terminals to handle increased imports and exports.
Until now, vessels the size of the Benjamin Franklin have sailed exclusively in the Asia-Europe trade, the world’s busiest container shipping route.
The bigger ships bring economies of scale, and they burn less fuel and have lower exhaust emissions than older vessels.

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