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Largest ship to call on Charleston sails into port

Charleston Regional Business Journal
July 25, 2011

The largest containership to ever call on the Port of Charleston seemed to tower over the USS Yorktown as it glided through the waters of the Cooper River this morning with a tugboat spraying water nearby.

In the course of about 10 minutes, the MSC Bruxelles appeared near the mouth of the river and moved under the Ravenel Bridge toward the Wando Terminal.

The 9,200-TEU Mediterranean Shipping Co. vessel can draft up to 49 feet, which required the ship to enter the Port of Charleston during high tide. The S.C. State Ports Authority said ships like the Bruxelles illustrate the need for harbor deepening to accommodate the future of the shipping industry.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying the economic benefits and environmental impacts of deepening Charleston Harbor beyond 45 feet, the current depth of the lower harbor. Ports officials want the corps to recommend deepening the harbor to 50 feet, which would allow the largest, post-Panamax containerships to call on the Port of Charleston without tidal restrictions.

Charleston often accommodates some of the world’s largest ships, and a flood of post-Panamax vessels is expected to be unleashed on the East Coast after the expansion of the Panama Canal opens in 2014.

Among the previous post-Panamax ships to call on Charleston was the 8,089-TEU MSC Rita, which docked in February 2010, and MSC Tomoko and the Northern “J-class” vessels, all of which carry about 8,400 TEU.

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