The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin.

CMA CGM, a leading worldwide shipping group, said Monday that the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, an 18,000-TEU vessel, will call at the Port of Los Angeles on Dec. 26, making it the largest container ship ever to call at any port in the U.S. The vessel will later call at the Port of Oakland on Dec. 31.

Jacques R. Saadé, group chairman and chief executive officer, said this call reflects the company’s faith in the long-term growth potential of the U.S. economy and its commitment to increasing its U.S. market share.

The CMA CGM Group has been working closely with the Ports of Los Angeles and Oakland to ensure there is sufficient infrastructure to support an 18,000-TEU vessel. A TEU is a 20-foot container or equivalent unit.

CMA CGM is today’s third-largest container shipping company in the world, offering sea, land and logistics solutions on five continents. CMA CGM entered the U.S. in 1997 and now offers 23 shipping lines connecting the U.S. to the rest of the world and employs more than 800 people in the country through its subsidiary CMA CGM America LLC.

Many ocean carriers have turned to building larger ships for greater efficiency and savings. Many ports have had to enlarge their berthing and channel sizes to handle the larger vessels. The Panama Canal is close to completion of a $5.25 billion expansion and reengineering that will allow these ships to pass through en route to East Coast and Gulf Coast ports.

The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin will be deployed on the Pearl River Express, a service connecting the main China ports, including Xiamen, Nansha and Yantian, with the U.S. West Coast ports. The vessel was delivered on Dec. 4.

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