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.”
The MSC Sofia Celeste was completed in 2014 and has an on-board capacity of 8,819 TEU’s, of which 1,462 can be used with refrigerated container plugs for transporting perishable cargo. The ship is the first to trade on MSC’s newly redesigned South America West Coast-USA-Northwest Continent service line, which makes stops in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and the Bahamas, before calling Philadelphia and then heading to Rotterdam. Holt Logistics projects this new weekly service will not only produce more imports from South America through Philadelphia, but also increase volumes from the Midwest destined for export to Northwest 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,” said Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (PRPA) Chairman Gerard Sweeney. “We commend our partners at Holt Logistics and the ILA for their expert handling of the Sofia Celeste, which, in addition to its record-size cargo, also inaugurates a reinvigorated Northern European service at the Port.”