Giant cargo ship makes first China-to-Tampa trip

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On Tuesday, one of the world’s largest shipping container companies docked its cargo ship, the M/V PIRAEUS, in Port Tampa Bay. It is now one of the largest ships to ever dock in the port.

The cargo ship is the result of a deal many years in the making between the port and Cosco Shipping Lines. It allows a new and faster way for companies to import and export goods across the world.

“This open a direct Asian service, a shipping call, [allows us] to be able to serve the I-4 corridor and the 8.5 million people that live in that I-4 corridor,” said Paul Anderson, the president and CEO of Port Tampa Bay.

Loaded with everything from furniture to food, the ship begins its journey in Shanghai, China. After a 31-day cruise across the Pacific and through the Panama Canal, it arrives in Tampa. The containers are then loaded onto trucks and sent to nearby distribution centers.

“We have over 150 distribution centers that can now get direct service calls from Asia,” said Anderson. “That is a big difference.”

The new form of direct transportation from Port Tampa Bay cuts travel time in half and saves money because businesses will no longer have to truck goods in from other ports.

The cargo ship is capable of transporting 4,500 different containers at one time. In Tampa, about 500 containers will be loaded and unloaded each week, making way for numerous economic benefits.

“There’s a lot of advantages. There’s efficiency in the cost of the goods. There’s jobs here that are created- the truck drivers, the crane operators and all of the indirect jobs related to it,” said Anderson.

It also gives businesses a direct line to Tampa’s growing economic hub.

“Asia, especially China, is the manufacturing hub of the world. So, it’s going to grow, and Tampa’s going to be a big part of it,” said Howard Finkel, the executive vice president of Cosco shipping.

Cosco’s cargo ship is already charting a new path for Tampa- promising continued growth and opportunities for the city.

While the ship is already one of the biggest to visit Tampa’s port, Cosco plans to double the size of their vessels in the near future.