A ship that's longer than the Empire State Building and wider than a football field cruised into the Port of Oakland for the second time in about two months on Thursday morning, making news just because of her size.
The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, which rocks the charts at 1,300 feet long and 177 feet wide, left Long Beach on Wednesday, and headed back to Oakland. The largest container ship to visit the United States and the 10th largest in the world will unload cargo and pick more cargo up before heading off to Seattle, and then to China.
The last trip to the Bay Area was on Dec. 31, 2015.
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Her sheer size alone, and the capacity to carry 18,000 containers, has veteran sea watchers catching their breath each and every time they see her cruise along the water.
"I have never seen anything like it in my life," Port of Oakland spokesman Mike Zampa, said last visit, as well as this one as he watched the vessel sail smoothly under the Bay Bridge just before 7 a.m. "This gave me the chills. It's just the biggest thing I've ever seen. It's the future for the Port of Oakland."
Zampa doesn't know exactly what was on the ship. But in general, imports from China and Korea, contain: Consumer electronics and laptops, clothes, footwear, household goods, wicker furniture, ceiling fans, and machine parts for assembly.
The Benjamin Franklin is operated by CMA CGM, based in Marseille, France.
Shipping company officials said they plan to use the ship in regular service connecting China with the West Coast of the U.S.
Oakland is one of only a handful of U.S. ports that can receive megaships, which carry large loads of cargo. The port has invested millions of dollars in changes, including dredging berths and channels to depths of 50 feet, raising the heights of cranes and modernizing marine terminals, port officials said. The Port of Oakland pioneered container shipping in the 1960s, Zampa said.