Port of Virginia hosts its largest container ship

The Panama Canal tweeted this picture of the COSCO Development on May 2nd.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The COSCO Development is longer than the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier — and will be the largest vessel ever to call on the Port of Virginia.

The ship is 1,200 feet long, making it one of the largest container ships in the world.

The development was built in 2011, and is also the largest ship ever to visit the East Coast of the United States.

The vessel can carry 13,092 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs. The previous record was held by the MOL Benefactor, when it sailed to Norfolk International Terminals last summer. By comparison, Monday’s arrival of the COSCO Development breaks the previous record by 3,000 TEUs.

The ship made it through the Panama Canal last week, and according to Marinetraffic.com, crossed over the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel around 4:15 a.m. Monday.

During the course of the ship’s 30-plus hour stay in Virginia, multiple labor shifts will load and unload nearly 2,000 containers. On average, most vessels are at the Port for 12 to 14 hours. Port of Virginia officials say this ship is nearly triple the size of regular moves at the port.

The new ship is the beginning of an era for the Port of Virginia. It proves that crews can handle larger jobs and more traffic.

“We’ve seen nothing like her here,” said John. F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director 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.”

Port officials hope more larger ships will start calling on Hampton Roads in the future.