The Panama Canal expansion has made its supersized presence felt all the way in the River Thames with the call of the first neo-panamax vessel to the London Container Terminal (LCT) in Tilbury.
MSC’s 8,819 teu Sofia Celeste has become the first of the new class to call into the UK after making its maiden transit of the Panama Canal on a reconfigured service connecting the West Coast of South America, East Coast of North America and Northwest Europe.
The Port of Tilbury is London’s biggest port serving a market of 18m people living within 120km. Within the port, the LCT boasts the UK’s largest reefer terminal which came in handy given the 2014-dottage Sofia Celeste can carry 1,462 teu reefers.
“The MSC Sofia Celeste marks a step change in connectivity for Tilbury’s customers offering much improved links to the growing South American and Transatlantic market allied with access to Europe’s largest portside chill store which NFT opened at the port this year,” Ross McKissock, LCT’s head of commercial said.
The new service from MSC into LCT is a direct result of the opening of the Panama Canal Expansion in June this year which allows larger vessels to transit the famous waterway.
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, Philadelphia and then Rotterdam.
“We are delighted to have called into London Container Terminal, following the vessel’s first voyage through the Canal, and we look forward to further developing services of this kind in the future,” MSC’s commercial import gm Natasha Griffin said.
The Port of Tilbury, covering over 1100 acres and close to the M25 orbital motorway, handles a diverse range of cargoes with specialist expertise in paper and forest products, containers & ro-ro, grain and bulk commodities and construction and building materials.
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