SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The largest container ship ever to serve the United States East Coast arrived in Savannah Friday morning.
The Garden City Terminal welcomed the CMA CGM Brazil, a ship with a capacity of more than 15,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.
The ship crossed in front of the River Street area just after 9 a.m.
The Georgia Ports Authority says, 20 years ago, it never would have imagined a vessel this big to pass through the Port of Savannah.
The GPA’s executive director says Friday was a celebration of the ongoing Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which will deepen the river from 42 feet to 47.
“Every foot that we gave, we can load up to 200 more containers. So, five feet, 1,000 more containers on a vessel like this,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said.
Lynch says the project is 75 percent complete, and it should be done by January 2022.
It’s something the president of CMA CGM North America looks forward to.
“The port will be able to take on even heavier loads and provide more scheduling flexibility for the next class of CMA CGM ultra large vessels,” CMA CGM North America President Ed Aldridge said.
And that translates into more jobs.
“You bring your ship here into this port, and I guarantee we’ll get it out in record time,” said Willie Seymore, with South Atlantic and Gulf Coast ILA.
And more economic development for the City.
“For every dollar that’s spent on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, we’re estimated to get a return of $7.30,” said Russel Wicke, with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Savannah District.
The Brazil is a prime example, port officials say, of the returns of investment for that project.
The Georgia Ports Authority was asked where they are with the study to replace the Talmadge Bridge. The executive director says that is still a priority. They’re working with GDOT to come up with four alternatives by June 2022.
Re-watch our live stream of the ship’s arrival:
Congressman Buddy Carter released the following statement about the Brazil’s arrival:
“This is an exciting day for our port and our community. After years of hard work, this is a foreshadowing of what is to come as we continue to expand vessel capacity at the port. This is just the beginning, and I will continue to fight until the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is completed.”
Residents and visitors started lining River Street about an hour before the ship arrived. Cameras and phones immediately came out as soon as the CMA Brazil was spotted, just north of The Westin.
“She’s now into big ships and stuff, see she loves it, and we both love all this kind of stuff too so we were interested in seeing the biggest boat,” Pooler residents Dhara and Darshil Patel said.
“I honestly thought it was going to hit the bridge when looking at it from the back, but now that it’s through, it cleared it. So, it’s really amazing to see the economy growing like it is, allowing bigger container ships to come through,” Metter resident Tina Sutton said.
The Brazil’s next stop is in Charleston, S.C.