History was made at the Port of Oakland New Years Eve day with the arrival of the
1,310-foot megaship CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, the largest container vessel to ever call the United States. It sailed away from the Port of Oakland at 1:30 p.m. on January 4. Nicknamed "Big Ben" by Bay Area media, she left goodwill and the promise of more business in her wake.
"This was a milestone event," said Port Maritime Director John Driscoll. "We proved the Port of Oakland can handle big ships efficiently and the entire Bay Area got caught up in the excitement of global trade."
The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, which carries up to 18,000 containers, drew hundreds of sightseers as she sailed into Oakland New Year's Eve. Many more watched her departure.
The visit was viewed as a trial-run to determine if big ships can work effectively on the U.S. West Coast. The initial verdict from Port officials: They can.
More than 2,200 cargo containers were moved on and off the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin Saturday and Sunday.
The huge vessel is scheduled to make a second West Coast visit in February. Maritime experts anticipate megaships to become an increasingly important part of the Trans-Pacific trade between Asia and the U.S.