The largest container vessel to ever call the U.S. East Coast will arrive on May 8 when the 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containership COSCO Development calls at the Virginia International Gateway, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA).
The vessel's arrival heralds the start of Virginia's "big ship era" as ships of similar size will be making regular calls there, port officials said today in a statement. Joe Harris, a VPA spokesman, said so-called mega-vessels will soon be calling the port approximately once a week.
Chinese carrier COSCO Group Container Lines is part of the five-carrier "Ocean Alliance," one of three global containership alliances that began officially operating on April 1. The 12 main liner companies decided to reorganize into three alliances from four following last August's bankruptcy and shutdown of Korean liner firm Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd.
Alliances allow steamship lines to pool their fleets and to move containers on one another's behalf. Carriers say the use of alliances enables them to increase their service offerings and geographic coverage at a fraction of the cost of a single carrier buying and operating vessels for weekly sailings across a global port network.
The four alliances will account for about 96 percent of the containership capacity in the east-west trades and nearly three-fourths of all global container capacity, according to estimates from freight forwarder and customs broker Flexport International LLC.