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SC Ports to welcome record-breaking vessel

CMA CGM MARCO POLO to arrive in Charleston this week

May 25, 2021

SC Ports is excited to welcome the record-breaking CMA CGM MARCO POLO. (Photo/CMA CGM)

CHARLESTON, SC — MAY 25, 2021 — South Carolina Ports will soon welcome the largest container ship to ever call the East Coast — the CMA CGM MARCO POLO.

The record-breaking CMA CGM MARCO POLO measures 1,300 feet long and has the capacity to carry 16,022 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

CMA CGM’s record-breaking vessel is working its way down the East Coast, with Charleston as the last U.S. port of call before it heads overseas.

“We look forward to welcoming the largest container ship to ever visit the Port of Charleston. The arrival of the 16,022-TEU CMA CGM MARCO POLO will be a big moment for South Carolina and our excellent maritime community,” SC Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “SC Ports has long planned for the arrival of such a ship by investing significantly in big-ship infrastructure and cargo capacity, as well as deepening Charleston Harbor. Congratulations to our partner CMA CGM on this impressive deployment. We are all proud to share in this milestone.”

SC Ports has invested $2 billion in infrastructure in recent years, including enhancements to Wando Welch Terminal, to handle bigger ships and more cargo. Ship-to-shore cranes with 155 feet of lift height above the wharf deck stand ready to work the CMA CGM MARCO POLO at Wando Welch Terminal.

The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project, slated for full completion in 2022, will enable Charleston to seamlessly handle fully loaded mega container ships at any time, any tide at 52 feet of depth.

“Our efficient operations and deep harbor are designed to handle ships of this size,” SC Ports COO Barbara Melvin said. “The arrival of such a big ship instills great pride in our maritime community and the Charleston community at large. We are excited to see the impressive CMA CGM MARCO POLO sailing through Charleston Harbor.”

The CMA CGM MARCO POLO is operated by the CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics. The vessel is sailing on CMA CGM’s Columbus JAX service, traveling from South Asia to the U.S. East Coast.

The deployment of the CMA CGM MARCO POLO signifies the company’s commitment to creating agile and flexible solutions to meet the needs of its U.S. customer base, as many ports are seeing unprecedented cargo boosts from increasing e-commerce sales and demand for retail goods.

The CMA CGM MARCO POLO will arrive less than one year after the record-breaking 15,072-TEU CMA CGM BRAZIL, which called on SC Ports last September.

“Bigger ships carry more cargo, further supporting port-dependent businesses and jobs throughout South Carolina and beyond,” said SC Ports Board Chairman Bill Stern, noting that port operations support 1 in 10 jobs in the state. “Port infrastructure investments make milestones such as this possible, generating future growth for S.C. communities.”

The CMA CGM MARCO POLO will call on SC Ports’ Wando Welch Terminal. (Photo/SCPA/English Purcell)

Track the vessel

The vessel is expected to arrive the morning of Friday, May 28. Follow SC Ports on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates on the arrival time.

Get your cameras ready, Charleston!

Come to one of these vantage points and snap some photos as the CMA CGM MARCO POLO arrives in Charleston:

  • Sullivan’s Island
  • Patriots Point
  • South Carolina Aquarium
  • Charleston Waterfront Park
  • Ravenel Bridge
  • Mount Pleasant Shem Creek Park
  • Pitt Street Bridge
  • Charlotte Street Park Irish Memorial
  • Melton Peter Demetre Park
  • Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park


Be sure to tag us in your posts so we can share your photos: @SCPorts, #SCPorts, @CMACGM and #CCMarcoPoloCharleston.

Want an exclusive tour of the CMA CGM MARCO POLO? Here’s your chance!

The CMA CGM Group will host an Instagram contest for the most beautiful pictures in each port city. Here are the details:

  • Snap a photo of the CMA CGM MARCO POLO as it arrives, docks or leaves Charleston.
  • Post your best shots on Instagram tagging @CMACGM with at least one of the following hashtags: #CMACGMRecord, #CMACGMMarcoPolo and #CCMarcoPoloCharleston. (Tag @SCPorts and #SCPorts, too!)
  • CMA CGM will pick three winners for Charleston.
  • The three winners will have an unprecedented opportunity to tour the CMA CGM MARCO POLO during its next port of call in Charleston.
  • Read contest details here.



Led by Rodolphe Saadé, the CMA CGM Group is a world leader in shipping and logistics. Its 566 vessels serve more than 420 ports around the world, on all five continents. In 2020, they transported nearly 21 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) containers. With CEVA Logistics, a world leader in logistics services, CMA CGM handles 400,000 tons of airfreight and 2.8 million tons of inland freight every year.

CMA CGM is constantly innovating to offer customers new maritime, inland and logistics solutions. Present on every continent and in 160 countries through its network of 755 offices and 750 warehouses, the Group employs more than 110,000 people worldwide, of which 2,400 are in Marseille where its head office is located.

In the United States, CMA CGM, which is based in Norfolk, Va., employs more than 12,000 people. Its subsidiary, American President Lines (APL), operates a fleet of U.S.-flagged vessels and supports U.S. territories and American military stationed around the world.

Press & Contact Information

Broadcast Media Inquiries:
Kelsi Brewer, General Manager, Public Relations & Digital Media

Print Media Inquiries:
Liz Crumley, Manager, Corporate Communications

200 Ports Authority Dr.
Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

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