A new record was just set at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
The CMA CGM Marco Polo arrived in New York Harbor on Thursday morning after completing a three-week journey from China through the Suez Canal. It’s the largest container vessel to ever visit, or call, the East Coast of the US and was the largest in the world when it was built in 2013.
A total of 16,022 20-foot-equivalent containers, also known as TEUs, can fit on the ship that’s roughly the size of the Empire State Building. That many containers could cover 61 miles if put in a straight line, almost the width of New Jersey.
Inside the containers are a variety of consumer goods including home goods, furniture, and construction materials, bound for US customers. Over 10,000 shipping companies and customers are represented by the containers on the ship.
While it’s in the port, 5,000 TEUs will be offloaded onto a constant stream of trucks and then transported either by road or rail to their final destinations. Over 140 million people are served by the Port of New York and New Jersey and even destinations as far as Chicago are a short two-day train ride away.
Once the offloading process is complete, new containers will be put on the ship to be delivered at other ports of call as the Marco Polo continues its around-the-world journey. Popular exports from the US include cotton, forest products, agricultural supplies, and foodstuffs.
Before arriving in the US, the ship made stops in Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Canada as part of CMA CGM’s Columbus JAX service. The Port of Savannah in Georgia will be the last port of call before the long trip back to Asia.
A record-setting pandemic
The Port of New York and New Jersey just celebrated a similar milestone in September when the CMA CGM Brazil broke the record now being broken by the Marco Polo.
Larger mega-ships have only recently been able to access the East Coast’s largest port since 2019. Standing in the way between the port and the massive freighters has been the Bayonne Bridge, connecting Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spent $1.7 billion to raise the roadway of the bridge and allow larger ships to pass underneath. Engineers also dredged the bottom of the Kill van Kull, using explosives to break up the bedrock below, to increase the depth of the port’s waterways to 50 feet.
And the Bayonne Bridge project was completed not a moment too soon. A backlog of consumer goods like furniture has been building up during the pandemic, and larger ships are required to meet the newfound demand.
The Marco Polo is just one ship that’s helping chip away at that backlog so consumers can receive the long-awaited goods they’ve ordered during the e-commerce boom of the pandemic.
And while the Marco Polo’s arrival is a monumental occasion for the port, the ever-growing demand for mega-ships will likely mean an even larger ship may break the record once again in a few month’s time.
Authorities are also working to dig the Ever Given out of the sand, The Wall Street Journal reported. Dredgers have shifted 27,000 cubic meters of sand to a depth of 18 meters, Arab News said.
But plans are in place to unload the cargo of the massive ship if these efforts fail, CGTN Africa reported.
Helicopters would most likely need to be used to lighten the Ever Given’s load, The Wall Street Journal reported. This is because there are no cranes in the vicinity that are tall enough to reach the top of the stacked containers, the paper said.
The process could unbalance and damage the ship, BBC News reported. “Worst case scenario is that she breaks in half because of [uneven] weight distributions,” Sal Mercogliano, an expert in maritime history, told the BBC.
It is likely that an effort to remove cargo boxes from the ship would take several days, Bloomberg reported. The Ever Given carries a load of 20,000 containers.
The Ever Given ship has caused a blockage in the Suez Canal since Tuesday morning.
There were 24 people on board during the wreck: 23 crew members and one pilot. Of the rescued, 20 were initially safely removed from the boat according to the US Coast Guard. The remaining four were later rescued, all alive and in “relatively good condition,” according to the Associated Press.
However, after delays from hurricanes and the coronavirus pandemic, the first cut was not removed until late November 2020, according to Car and Driver. Shortly after oin December 9, 2020, Car and Driver published a report that found that hundreds of subcompact vehicles were replaced by the heavier Kia Telluride SUV, therefore changing the ship’s balance and causing the wreck.
See the full timeline of the Golden Ray wreck:
The cargo ship Golden Ray capsized and caught fire in September 2019 in St. Simons Sound off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia, roughly 80 miles south of Savannah, Georgia.
The US Coast Guard called the wreck “unprecedented,” according to NPR …
The ship was headed to Baltimore up the coast from Jacksonville, Florida.
There were 24 people on board: 23 crew members and one pilot. Everyone was rescued alive.
Before being rescued, the rescue team was communicating with the trapped crew members through a hole the rescuers’ drilled, according to CBS.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources had been monitoring the coastal environmental conditions following the capsizing.
The company thanked the Coast Guard in a statement, and said it would work on “mitigating damage to property and the environment.”
A joint recovery team between the state of Georgia, the Coast Guard, and Hyundai’s contractor, Gallagher Marine Systems, was tasked with pumping the approximately 300,000 gallons of fuel and oil out of the ship’s tank, NPR reported.
The rocks will be removed after the Golden Ray has been completely dismantled.
Marine chemists and salvage operators, pictured below on November 22, 2019, were assessing the oil inside of the wreckage in order to figure out the best way to remove oil without damaging the environment and response crew.
Work barges have been deployed to clean up the tank’s oil, as announced by St. Simons Sound Response on December 4, 2019. Barges provide better access to crew members and equipment.
On December 12, 2019, the St. Simons Sound Incident Response Unified Command finished removing oil from all of the ship’s 26 accessible tanks. Some of the tanks were submerged and had to be oil pumped via diving operations.
Over 320,000 gallons of oil and water were removed.
“This milestone helps ensure the health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people who rely on the St. Simons Sound,” Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s emergency response state on-scene coordinator Jed Hewitt said in a statement. “The removal of fuel from the vessel has significantly reduced the remaining threat to the environment.”
On December 20, 2019, Golden Ray’s rudder and propeller -which weighed a total of 130 tons – were removed to “help reduce stresses to the hull of the wreck,” St. Simons Sound Response wrote in a statement.
A fire was started on board the ship on January 19 when contract welders were working inside the ship. At least one car inside of the Golden Ray caught on fire, but the flames were put out via the contractor’s fireboat, local news reported.
Donjon-SMIT, the former Golden Ray salvage company, filed a lawsuit against the US Coast Guard alleging that the Coast Guard violated federal law by dropping Donjon-SMIT to work with a rival company, News 4 Jax reported.
Donjon-SMIT said the US Coast Guard allegedly violated a 1990 federal law after Donjon-SMIT was dropped as the official salvage response company even though it was already a part of the Golden Ray’s response plan, WABE reported.
On December 9, 2020, Car and Driver published a report that found that hundreds of subcompact vehicles were replaced by the heavier Kia Telluride SUVs, therefore changing the ship’s balance and causing the wreck.