Largest Ship on Record Passes Under GGB

As wide as the San Francisco Bay is, getting this ship to port is still a tricky job.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The MSC Fabiola has become the largest ship ever to sail through the Golden Gate. (Published Wednesday, Mar 21, 2012)

    The largest ship ever to sail through the Golden Gate arrived Wednesday.

    The MSC Fabiola is almost as long as the Empire State Building. It has a capacity to bring 12,500 20 foot long containers to port. If those containers were stacked end to end they would stretch 50 miles.

    The ship's size is catching the attention of folks driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and standing along the shoreline.  Additional bar pilot teams are being used to help navigate the San Francisco Bay waters, which can be tricky even for a regular size container ship. The Fabiola is about a third larger than a normal container ship.

    NBC Bay Area photographer Robert Wellington road on a pilot boat next to the ship while he sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. (photo right) He said the said of the ship was very impressive. "It's massive. It's amazing," Wellington said.

    "The MSC Fabiola is one of the world's largest vessels, and a prime example of how today's ships are increasing in size," Captain Bruce Horton, President of the San Francisco Bar Pilots, said. "We safely maneuver ships of all sizes, but given the length and width of the MSC Fabiola it will closely approach the limited size of the channel and turning basin of the bay. It's an extra challenge for us. These close tolerances, together with visibility and handling difficulties, require more precise navigational aids to protect the Bay and the precious cargo, which helps support California's economy."

    If you aren't up in San Francisco today, you can watch the ships progress through the Bay at this link.

    Below is a file photo of the Fabiola up close.