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December 15, 2015 5:00 PM, EST

Largest Container Ship Ever to Visit United States Arriving Dec. 26

The largest containership to ever call at a U.S. port will arrive Dec. 26 at the Port of Los Angeles and Dec. 31 at the Port of Oakland, California.

The Marseille, France-based CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin can hold up to 18,000 20-foot shipping containers, or TEUs, officials said.

Oakland port officials expect the 1,300-foot-long Benjamin Franklin to test its berthing, docking and unloading capacities during its maiden voyage. CMA CGM ranks No. 12 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of global freight carriers.

After its launch from a Chinese shipyard last month, line owners expect to schedule regular service among California, China and South Korea.

The largest of the cargo ships that currently visit the Oakland port can hold up to 14,000 TEUs laden with goods from faraway ports. Most ships of the Franklin's class work the Asia-to-Europe routes, but trans-Pacific routes hold an allure for shipping lines.

The newer ships of this size burn less fuel and emit less exhaust than older, smaller models.

"Nothing this big has ever been seen in our country," Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle said in a statement Dec. 14.

"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."

The Port of Oakland is one of the few American destinations that can handle deep-draft vessels, without the limits the Panama Canal places on Asian access to Gulf of Mexico and eastern United States ports.

Port of Oakland has spent millions of dollars to prepare for larger vessels, including dredging berths and channels to 50-foot depths, updating its marine terminals to handle more imports and exports, and raising the height of its cranes.