Largest container ship 'Benjamin Franklin' docks at Port of LA

- The largest container ship ever to dock in North America arrived back in the Southland today for a second visit.

The French-made CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin docked this morning at the port of Long Beach's Pacific Container Terminal.

Beginning Friday, longshore workers will start moving about 12,500 cargo containers on and off the giant vessel, more than two-and-a-half times the world-leading 5,000 containers Long Beach terminals move during the call of an average-size ship.

The unloading will follow a ceremony welcoming the Franklin to Long Beach, attended by a litany of city leaders, elected officials and shipping executives, port spokesman Lee Peterson said.

The mammoth task of unloading the freight will be finished by Tuesday, performed largely by 300-foot-high cranes run by an operator in a cabin 180 feet in the air.

The megaship will depart Wednesday for Seattle.

The Franklin -- which made its Southern California debut at the Port of Los Angeles in late December -- is one-third bigger than the largest ships that usually operate at the San Pedro Bay's twin ports complex. It's part of a
family of "ultra large container vessels'' that have started operating at Asian and European ports in recent years.

The ship's 1,306-foot length, almost a quarter-mile, is comparable to the height of the 102-story tall Empire State Building, and its width matches that of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. 

The ship, launched Dec. 10, has a carrying capacity of 18,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units.

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