Eco-friendly CMA CGM Marco Polo becomes largest ship to dock at PhilaPort

The Packer Avenue Marine Terminal (PAMT) at the Port of Philadelphia (PhilaPort) has welcomed the eco-friendly CMA CGM Marco Polo, the largest vessel to ever call the port in its 300-year history.


The ultra large container vessel (ULCV), spanning 1,300 feet and boasting a capacity of 16,020 containers, reached the port on March 8, 2024.

The ship, operated by French CMA CGM, the third-largest container shipping company in the world, arrived as part of the ‘NAMEX’ service originating in Yantian, China, continuing through Vietnam, Malaysia, Siri Lanka, and Morocco, before heading to the U.S. East Coast.

“This vessel is the manifestation of years of hard work preparing for this newer class of vessels,” Jeff Theobald, Executive Director and CEO of PhilaPort, commented.

“It has always been our goal to be able to handle these vessels which have become the workhorse of maritime trade around the world”.

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Comparing the vessel size relative to Philadelphia, the 2012-built Marco Polo is: 180-feet longer than Philadelphia’s tallest building; the length would span 2.6 Philadelphia city blocks; and is longer than four football fields.

This class of vessels takes advantage of economies of scale. The cost of shipping containers on this ship is more economical, with larger vessels having better fuel efficiency.

“This vessel’s arrival in Philadelphia will be noticed by shippers and shipping executives all over the world,” Eric Holt, Chief Commercial Officer of Holt Logistics, said.

“It represents the next great chapter of the Port.”

The Port of Philadelphia has experienced a container growth of 74% since 2015 thanks to a major, multi-million channel deepening project. The Delaware River Channel Deepening Project is a 103-mile-long $392 million project began in 2010 with the aim of allowing bigger ships to come to Philadelphia through the expanded Panama Canal.

A year ago, CMA CGM equipped CMA CGM Marco Polo with a new windshield prototype. The device improves a vessel’s aerodynamics resulting in lower fuel consumption and thus contributing to a lower carbon footprint of the vessel.

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The boxship is also equipped with an electronically controlled engine that reduces fuel consumption, a twisted leading-edge rudder, a Pre-Swirl Stator which allows the straightening up of the water flow upstream from the propeller in order to improve its productivity, a ballast water treatment system and Exhaust Gas Bypass system that improves energy efficiency, reducing fuel consumption at low speeds.