Largest Container Ship to Call On U.S. East Coast Arrives at Port Elizabeth

CGM Marco Polo
The CMA CGM Marco Polo, an ultra-large container vessel with a maximum capacity of 16,022 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), to the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal (EPAMT) as the largest container ship ever to call at any U.S. East Coast port. (Photo: Port of New York and New Jersey)

On Thursday, May 20th, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey welcomed the CMA CGM MARCO POLO

The historic arrival of the container ship which is calling at ports in North America after a voyage from southeast Asia through the Suez Canal, highlights the Port Authority’s various investments in critical regional infrastructure and the far-reaching benefits they have on the entire region and its economy. The raising of the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge to a navigational clearance of 215 feet and the deepening of the navigational channels to 50 feet allow some of the world’s largest and newer, more environmentally friendly cargo vessels to serve the seaport’s container terminals in New Jersey and Staten Island. 

Before the Bayonne’s new roadway was completed in 2017, the bridge’s previous height clearance of 151 feet limited access to cargo vessels with a maximum capacity of 9,800 TEUs.

“The CMA CGM MARCO POLO’s arrival at our seaport underscores the Port of New York and New Jersey’s ability to serve the ultra-large cargo container ships that increasingly carry the food, supplies and goods needed to sustain millions of residents, support thousands of jobs and keep businesses open,” said Rick Cotton, executive director of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “The Port Authority’s infrastructure improvements such as the raising of the Bayonne Bridge and the deepening of the navigational channel serving our seaport have made possible this historic moment. These infrastructure improvements also have helped generate record cargo volumes and enabled our supply lines to remain extraordinarily robust during the pandemic.”

 “CMA CGM’s agile methodology enables us to flex our operations to support the growing needs of our customers. The deployment of the CMA CGM MARCO POLO is a direct reflection of that agility and our commitment to deliver the essentials that keep America moving. We appreciate The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s intelligent, timely infrastructure improvements that have made it possible for us to bring in larger ships and proactively serve our customers from this key American gateway,” said Ed Aldridge, President of CMA CGM America and APL North America.

The Port of New York and New Jersey will be the CMA CGM MARCO POLO’s first port of call in the U.S., due to arrive at the APM Terminal in EPAMT. The ship will unload up to 5,000 TEUs that includes clothing, pharmaceuticals, furniture, appliances, holiday decorations, building materials, home fixtures and food due for distribution to businesses throughout the region and beyond.


The CMA CGM MARCO POLO is the largest container ship to call on the U.S. East Coast. At the ship’s maximum carrying capacity of 16,022 TEUs, containers would be stacked nine tiers above the deck. It was the largest container ship in the world at the time it was put into service in 2013. Its length of 1,300 feet is longer than the height of the Empire State Building and the entire ship spans about five Manhattan city blocks (1,300 feet by 176 feet). 


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