On Wednesday, August 3, the first of a new class of “Neo-Panamax” shipping vessels called the Port of Philadelphia to begin a new phase of transport along the Delaware River.
The MSC Sofia Celeste, an 8,800 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) vessel operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company, docked at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in South Philadelphia for the first time, making it the largest ship to ever call the Port of Philadelphia.
“This new service comes as a direct result of the opening of the Panama Canal Expansion,” said David Whene, President of Greenwich Terminals LLC, operator of the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal.
“Coupled with the near completion of the Delaware River Deepening Project, the Port of Philadelphia is poised to capitalize on this new service line as the only direct US east coast port of call between the west coast of South America and Europe.”
“With many major improvement projects on the horizon and now this record-size vessel calling the Port, so much is occurring to help us assure that the Port of Philadelphia fulfills its vast potential,” added Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) Chairman Gerard Sweeney.
The Delaware River Deepening Project involves dredging as needed within the existing 40-foot Delaware River federal navigation channel to deepen it to 45 feet from Philadelphia Harbor, Pa. and Beckett Street Terminal, Camden, N.J. along a 102.5-mile distance to deepwater in the Delaware Bay.
The deeper channel will provide for more efficient transportation of containerized, dry bulk (steel and slag) and liquid bulk (crude oil and petroleum products) cargo to and from the Delaware River ports, with estimated net annualized benefits of more than $13 million to the U.S. economy.