Inside Logistics

First vessel through newly opened Panama Canal calls at New York

MOL Benefactor is the largest vessel ever to call on the Port of New York and New Jersey


July 8, 2016
by MM&D Online Staff

Port officials with MOL Benefactor

Port officials with MOL Benefactor

New York, New York—The MOL Benefactor, the first container vessel to transit the expanded Panama Canal locks and visit an East Coast port, is the largest vessel ever to call on the Port of New York and New Jersey.

This event signals a new era in shipping as the port continues to handle the largest vessels now transiting the recently expanded Panama Canal locks.

The MOL Benefactor is a new Panama class vessel boasting a 10,100 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) cellular capacity. It is the first vessel to visit any East Coast port after passing through the new locks, which opened on June 26.

Terminal operator GCT USA completed expansion at the state-of-the-art GCT Bayonne in the summer of 2014 to ensure that the Port of New York and New Jersey would be “big ship ready” for large vessels already transiting the Suez Canal. Previously, the largest ship to call on the port was the 10,070 TEU Zim Tianjin, which arrived in spring 2015 and was also serviced by GCT Bayonne.

By contrast, the average vessel calling on the Port of New York and New Jersey today has a capacity of 5,000 TEUs. New larger ships like the MOL Benefactor will likely result in cargo coming in and out of the harbor on fewer ships. These new Panama class ships are the most advanced environmentally engineered ships afloat, dramatically reducing emissions per ship and emissions for total cargo handled.

The MOL Benefactor, a neo Panamax vessel christened in 2016, is approximately 48.6 percent more fuel efficient than a standard Panamax vessel that calls on the port.

“We welcome the MOL Benefactor to our port and look forward to other large ships visiting the port in the coming weeks,” said Port Authority port commerce director Molly Campbell.

“Today’s ship call validates that we are open for business and that we are big ship ready now that the Panama Canal project is complete.  We look forward to handling even more megaships at our terminals in the Port of New York and New Jersey once the Bayonne Bridge is raised by the end of next year.”

“GCT is committed to service excellence and innovation for our customers,” stated John Atkins, GCT USA president.

“Our private investment expanded and modernized GCT Bayonne in advance of the Panama Canal completion, ensuring that the Port of New York and New Jersey was big ship ready. This enables us to handle our customers’ largest vessels now and for years to come, ensuring that New York remains the harbor of choice.”

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and its private sector tenants have invested approximately $6 billion in projects to prepare the port complex for new larger ships. The most critical investment is the raising of the roadway on the Bayonne Bridge, a $1.3 billion project that will increase the navigational clearance under the bridge from 151 feet to 215 feet.

Ships docking at GCT Bayonne do not have to travel under the Bayonne Bridge. The bridge’s navigational clearance will be in place by the end of 2017, allowing all terminals to serve the largest ships calling the port.

In addition, a 10-year project to deepen the harbor’s channels to 50 feet will be completed this summer. The Port Authority also invested $600 million to equip port terminals with environmentally-friendly on-dock rail on top of significant investments to upgrade the port’s internal road network.