SHIPPING NEWS: Record-setting call for Halifax

Peter Ziobrowski


The CMA CGM Brazil called Thursday on PSA Halifax and, in doing so, set the record for the largest container ship to call in Canada and the largest to call on the east coast of North America.

The ship, which entered service in May, is capable of carrying 15,072 20-foot equivalent units and measures 366 metres in length, with a beam of 51 metres.

Tipped on end, the ship would be the third-tallest structure in Canada, after the CN Tower in Toronto and the Inco super stack in Sudbury, Ont.

COSCO Himalayas, at 14,200 teu, called at Prince Rupert, B.C., in 2017 and held the previous record for largest ship to call in Canada.

The largest ship to call on the west coast and current North American record holder is the 19,000 teu MSC Anna, which called at the ports of Oakland and Long Beach in California in April. That was not a regular call but part of a strategy to make up for blank sailings and address an oversupply of empty containers.

CMA CGM has slowly been increasing the size of ships on its Columbus JAX service, and several Port of Halifax records have been set. The 14,414 teu CMA CGM T. Jefferson previously held the Canadian record after a call in March, and beat the record held by CMA-CGM Libra set in January 2019 at 11,388 teu.

The Columbus JAX service sails from Asia to the east and west coasts of North America. Eighteen vessels provide weekly service, and one full trip takes 126 days. West coast stops are limited to Los Angeles and Oakland, however, the service at one point called on Vancouver.

The Port of Halifax’s other terminal is also seeing size records. YM Upsurgence is due to return to Ceres on Wednesday. At 8626 teu and 333 metres in length and with a 43-metre beam, it is one of the largest vessels to call at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal.

The Fairview terminal is restricted in the size of vessels it can candle due to air draft restrictions at the bridges. Ships this size will pass under the bridge with only a couple of metres of clearance, about the same height as a doorway in your house.

The comparison between YM Upsurgence and CMA CGM Brazil demonstrates how significant capacity can be added to a ship by making it wider and allowing containers to be stacked higher, demonstrating the need for newer, larger cranes.

The post-Panamax cranes installed at PSA Halifax in 2000 were two small to handle the Brazil and went unused.