May 8, 2017 4:00 PM, EDT

Port of Virginia Welcomes 13,000-TEU Vessel, Its Largest Ever

Port of Virginia

The Cosco Development called at the Port of Virginia on May 8, marking the largest containership to visit the port in history and the first of its three stops on the East Coast during the second week of the month..

The vessel holds more than 13,000 industry-standard 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, and traveled through the expanded Panama Canal less than a year after the expansion was completed.

The previous record was held by the MOL Benefactor, which carried about 10,000 TEUs and visited the East Coast in the summer of 2016.

“We’ve seen nothing like her here,” said John Reinhart, CEO of the Virginia Port Authority. “For years, we have been talking about the ‘next generation’ of vessels and the ‘big-ship era.’ This is what we have been preparing for: The talk is over, the big ships are here.”

RELATED: Big-Ship Era dawns for East Coast as record-setting ship transits Panama Canal

The Cosco Development arrived in the early morning on May 8 at the Virginia International Gateway terminal, offloading nearly 2,000 containers. It was scheduled to leave on May 9 and travel to the Port of Savannah and Charleston to complete its journey.

It’s the beginning of weekly Asia-to-U.S. East Coast service with 11 vessels, each carrying 11,000 to 13,000 TEUs from Asia through the Panama Canal to Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina before returning to China.

New York will be added as a stop on the regular Asia-to-East Coast service when it has removed the old Bayonne Bridge deck, which is scheduled to be finished by June 30.

Cosco Shipping is part of the Ocean Alliance, which also includes CMA CGM, Evergreen Line and OOCL. In the new alliance, each member is allowed to put containers on any ship of another member, which the steamship lines believe helps mitigate the oversupply of vessels in the ocean freight industry.