September 21, 2020

SC Ports welcomes biggest ship to ever visit the East Coast

CMA CGM Brazil
The 15,072-TEU CMA CGM Brazil set a record as the biggest ship to ever visit SC Ports when it sailed into Charleston Sunday morning. (Photo/SCPA/English Purcell)
CMA CGM Brazil 2
The 15,072-TEU CMA CGM Brazil is docked at Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant, S.C. It is scheduled to depart today around 4 p.m. (Photo/SCPA/English Purcell)

CHARLESTON, SC – SEPT. 21, 2020 – South Carolina Ports Authority celebrates the arrival of the biggest container ship to ever call the U.S. East Coast — the 15,072-TEU CMA CGM Brazil — making Charleston the last U.S. port of call before it heads overseas.

The CMA CGM Brazil can carry 15,072 containers of cargo. It measures 1,200 feet long — equivalent to the length of the Eiffel Tower.

The CMA CGM Brazil worked its way down the East Coast and arrived in Charleston Sunday morning, saving the deepest port for last. Charleston’s deep harbor and wide channels, combined with SC Ports’ efficient operations, can seamlessly handle the loaded vessel. It is scheduled to depart from Wando Welch Terminal today around 4 p.m.

“We welcome the CMA CGM Brazil to Charleston and extend a big congratulations on this landmark record ship,” SC Ports President and CEO Jim Newsome said. “This points to the success of our long-term strategy of investing in port infrastructure and deepening our harbor to accommodate the largest vessels visiting the East Coast. We have planned well for our customers’ growth.”

The CMA CGM Brazil’s visit is very significant for SC Ports and for South Carolina, showcasing big-ship capabilities and global competitiveness. Larger ships carry more cargo, further supporting port-dependent businesses and jobs throughout the state and the Southeast.

“We are very excited to welcome the 15,072-TEU CMA CGM Brazil to SC Ports. Our efficient operations and modern ship-to-shore cranes ensure we can efficiently work vessels of this size,” SC Ports COO Barbara Melvin said. “Our SC Ports team and the broader maritime community take great pride in the vital work of keeping freight moving.”

The CMA CGM Group said the deployment of the Brazil signifies CMA CGM’s commitment to supporting the U.S. economy by maintaining strong relationships with U.S. ports and customers. The CMA CGM Group stressed that timely infrastructure investments at East Coast ports made this milestone possible.

SC Ports has invested $2 billion in infrastructure to handle more cargo and bigger ships.

Wando Welch Terminal has undergone extensive upgrades, including new ship-to-shore cranes with 155 feet of lift height above the wharf deck, enabling SC Ports’ crane operators to work larger ships.

SC Ports is on track to open Phase One of the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal in March, the country’s first container terminal in a decade that will further boost SC Ports’ big-ship capabilities.

The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is fully funded and on schedule to achieve 52 feet of depth in 2021. Charleston Harbor will be the deepest on the East Coast, capable of handling vessels without tidal restrictions. This was made possible through the support of the S.C. Legislature, Congressional delegation and Trump Administration.

“Our infrastructure investments will enable SC Ports to accommodate four 14,000-TEU-and-above vessels simultaneously in 2021, as well as a 19,000-TEU vessel,” Newsome said.

SC Ports’ strategic infrastructure investments enabled this latest big-ship call. The CMA CGM Brazil increases capacity on the weekly Columbus JAX service.

The CMA CGM Brazil is operated by the CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics. CMA CGM is No. 1 in total U.S. combined export/import market share and employs more than 12,000 staff members in the U.S. CMA CGM serves 19 U.S. ports with 34 services and 93 weekly port calls.

Notable quotes:

“SC Ports has further established itself as one of our state’s premier economic drivers and job creators. The arrival of the CMA CGM Brazil is an exciting milestone for SC Ports and for South Carolina as it supports the movement of more goods throughout our state.” — Gov. Henry McMaster

“Seeing these ships on the water, it’s still hard to convey their size. Longer than four football fields, this is the largest container ship to call on the East Coast. Years of work is paying off as more and more of these mammoth ships connect our port to markets around the world. It’s a good fit for us at the Port of Charleston and it fits Charleston Harbor just fine. And next year, we will have the deepest harbor of any port on the East Coast at 52 feet.” — Sen. Larry Grooms, chairman of the Review and Oversight Commission on the State Ports Authority

“SC Ports leadership and board of directors have worked for years to invest in modern infrastructure to handle big ships. The exciting arrival of the CMA CGM Brazil signifies that these investments were made at the right time to support growth, ensuring SC Ports remains a vital economic engine for the state.” — SC Ports Board Chairman Bill Stern

CMA CGM docking at WWT
The 15,072-TEU CMA CGM Brazil sailed into Charleston Harbor Sunday morning before docking at SC Ports' Wando Welch Terminal. The Port of Charleston is the vessel's last U.S. East Coast port of call before it heads overseas. (Photo/SCPA/Marion Bull)
CMA CGM outside Shem Creek
Lowcountry residents gathered on bridges, piers and shorelines to watch the arrival of the CMA CGM Brazil in Charleston. (Photo/SCPA/Marion Bull)
CMA CGM at dock
SC Ports worked three vessels at Wando Welch Terminal on Sunday, including the record-setting CMA CGM Brazil. (Photo/SCPA/English Purcell)


CMA CGM in the turning basin
The CMA CGM Brazil measures 1,200 feet long, which is nearly the equivalent to the length of the Eiffel Tower. (Photo/SCPA/Marion Bull)

About South Carolina Ports Authority

South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport and intermodal facilities in Charleston, Dillon, Georgetown and Greer. As an economic development engine for the state, Port operations facilitate 225,000 statewide jobs and generate nearly $63.4 billion in annual economic activity. SCPA is soon to be home to the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet, and the Port is an industry leader in delivering speed-to-market, seamless processes and flexibility to ensure reliable operations, big ship handling, efficient market reach and environmental responsibility. For more information on SCPA, please visit