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Another monster ship calls on the Port of Virginia

Another week, another biggest-ship-ever calling on the port.

Or maybe it just seems that way.

The CMA CGM John Adams is a virtual clone of the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, the largest-capacity container ship ever to call on the U.S. East Coast, which last week made the Port of Virginia its first stop.

The John Adams arrived in Hampton Roads very early Wednesday morning after leaving the Port of Colon in Panama a week earlier.

The ship is part of an 11-vessel service connecting Asia and U.S. East Coast ports through the Panama Canal, though the ships return to Hong Kong by going around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

The John Adams is docked at Virginia International Gateway in Portsmouth, where nearly 2,800 containers are expected to be moved on or off the ship, said Joe Harris, a port spokesman.

It’s scheduled to leave at about noon today for Savannah, Ga.

Both ships are 1,200 feet long, about 158 feet wide and able to carry about 14,400 containers, measured in standard 20-foot units or TEUs – like the half-size containers often spotted on the back of trucks.

They’re the largest-capacity container ships ever to transit the Panama Canal and people should expect to see more ships as big or nearly as big in the port in the weeks and months ahead. “It’s becoming routine,” Harris stated.

Are any bigger fish on the way?

“If a larger vessel is to call Virginia, we have the necessary infrastructure to safely handle it,” he added. “At present, we don’t see anything larger on the horizon, but this could change and, if that happens, we are ready.”

As it turns out, the Theodore Roosevelt is still hanging around the East Coast. It’s scheduled to arrive at the Port of New York/New Jersey this morning and leave early Friday. It will be the biggest ship to pass under the Bayonne Bridge, which underwent a $1.6 billion elevation project that wrapped up in early June.

“We expect similar size ships in the future, but are waiting for details from the shipping lines,” Steve Coleman, a port spokesman, said in an email.

While the ship is still scheduled to call on Charleston, S.C., before returning to Asia, it could spend a little more time in the New York area depending on the track of Hurricane Irma.

“It may be held there until the storm path and potential impacts become more clear,” said Erin Dhand, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Ports Authority, adding that ocean carrier CMA CGM makes those decisions.

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