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Grand Alliance Upsizes Ships in Port of Charleston

Charleston, SC - With today's call of the OOCL California, an alliance of ocean carriers is upsizing its vessels calling the Port of Charleston.

The Grand Alliance, which includes Hapag-Lloyd, NYK and OOCL, has upgraded its Atlantic Express Service (ATX), a North Europe container service that calls North Charleston Terminal on a weekly basis. The service has deployed four larger, post-Panamax vessels with capacity of 5,400 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in place of Panamax ships.

Charleston is the last U.S. port outbound on the service, signaling the importance of Southeast exports to the trade.

"Charleston is a natural gateway to North Europe, given the businesses with European ties that have established in South Carolina," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority.  

Charleston leads the European market among South Atlantic ports, with approximately 36 percent of the port's container volume associated with North Europe. Additionally, the port's deep shipping channels - the deepest in the region today - allow more capability for post-Panamax calls.

"Large vessels are not only being deployed in the trade between Asia and the U.S. East Coast," Newsome said. "This represents the second carrier grouping to deploy post-Panamax container vessels in the trade between the U.S. and North Europe. When cargo operations are finished later today, this vessel will sail with a draft too deep to be accommodated in any other South Atlantic port."  

The 5,400-TEU OOCL California will sail for Rotterdam, followed by calls in Hamburg, Le Havre and Southampton. Zim, ACL and Hamburg Sud also participate in the ATX service.