One of the world's largest cargo ships arrives at the Port of Los Angeles early Saturday on its first voyage around the world.
French shipping company CMA CGM named its newest ultra-large container ship for one of America's founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. It was launched Dec. 10.
When it stops at the Port of Los Angeles on its maiden voyage, it will be the largest cargo ship ever to arrive in North America. Port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said the port has spent the past ten years getting ready to handle ships this size.
"We've dredged our main channel and our berths, we've fortified our wharves, we've got on-dock rail so that the trains are right adjacent to the dock to take these goods to market," Sanfield said.
At 1,300 feet long, the Benjamin Franklin is 200 feet longer than downtown LA's tallest building. When fully loaded with nearly 18,000 TEUs of shipping containers (one TEU is equivalent to a 20-foot long cargo container), the stack will rise a couple hundred feet above the ship's water line.
The ship is 177 feet wide, making it both too wide and long to fit through the Panama Canal, even after its planned expansion is completed.
Ships like this can carry about one-third more cargo than the average container ships that come into L.A. Sanfield said the port can expect more mega ships like this in the future. That's because the biggest cost in shipping is the fuel for ships. One huge ship uses less fuel than two smaller ships. A crew of 27 operates the Benjamin Franklin.
To see this bit of maritime history chug into the Port of L.A., you'll have to be an early riser. It docks at Pier 400 hours before dawn, so it can be ready to unload when the next shift of dock workers arrive.
The Benjamin Franklin is scheduled to dock in Long Beach in early 2016.