Is Bigger Better?

cargo shipThe day after Christmas can be a wonderfully relaxing time – enjoying visiting guests, eating leftovers, and playing with new gifts.

But for many of us, it was back to work as usual, as shipping doesn’t sleep!

The folks at the Port of Los Angeles were hard at work – not unloading Santa’s sleigh, but another vehicle making record-breaking deliveries.

The world’s largest cargo ship, the French CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, was berthed in the U.S. port on December 26th, a sign of the new worldwide trend in massive container megaships.

As long from end-to-end as the Empire State Building is tall (that’s 4 football fields for you sports fans!), the 185,000-ton Benjamin Franklin is the second megaship to dock at the Port of Los Angeles.

While such ships can obviously hold an incredible amount of cargo (think: 240,000 tons), they present a few unique challenges. Not every port is large enough, or has the manpower to allow for ships of this size.

Often around a quarter-mile long, and in the case of Benjamin Franklin, so wide it can’t travel through the Panama Canal, such ships tax more than just space constraints. With megaships boasting five times more cargo than a standard container ship, the labor requirements to handle said cargo is often stressed to the limits.

Prior to December 2015, megaships were only authorized on Asia-Europe trade routes, with no U.S. ports able to handle such massive loads. But with a $400 million dollar overhaul to the Port of L.A., these ships can continue to increase the U.S. role in world cargo transport, making us more competitive with Asia and Europe. Megaships are also touted as being environmentally friendly; the amount of cargo carried by each ship means less fuel and fewer trips are needed to deliver goods. In fact, despite its massive size, the Ben Franklin emits the lowest rates of CO2 per container of any ship, meeting the 2025 emissions standards.

You may remember last year’s West Coast ports saga, where disagreements between unions and workers wreaked havoc on the supply chain. With the complete standstill of last year’s strike so close behind, seeing the Port of Los Angeles recover with this coup is truly heartening. (The Port of L.A. even has its own Instagram page – who knew?)

do you think? Is bigger better? Does the Benjamin Franklin prove that Pacific ports are back at 110% capacity and that the shipping industry can continue to bring attention and jobs to the American coasts?cargo ship

Play big this weekend,

P.S. Speaking of play, here’s a fun fact:
Megaships are popular with more than just shipping enthusiasts. The Mary Maersk, the world’s first megaship, has been immortalized by Lego, in a set including well over 1500 bricks that measures more than two feet long when assembled!