May 1, 2021, marked another milestone for the Port of New York and New Jersey as the seaport welcomed the MSC Virgo to Port Newark Container Terminal (PNCT). Staff from the Port of New York and New Jersey presented the ship’s captain and crew with a commemorative plaque during a ceremony marking its arrival as the largest container ship to call at the terminal.
Built in 2020, the 15,000-TEU capacity MSC Virgo is deployed on MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company’s INDUSA service that was introduced in September 2020 to reinforce its service offering on the Indian subcontinent. The MSC Virgo is the Geneva-based company’s first 15,000-TEU vessel to call on any U.S. East Coast port.
The current average size vessel in the INDUSA service can carry approximately 8,000 TEUs; the 15,000-TEU container ship was the largest ship deployed in the service, the largest to call on the Port of Newark, and the largest vessel operated by MSC at the Port of New York and New Jersey to date.
“The MSC Virgo shows how our great and long-standing collaboration with the port has led us to this point, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with the port to promote, grow, and expand our presence in this all-important gateway,” the company said.
Sailing under the Portuguese flag, the MSC Virgo stretches 366 meters long (1,200 feet) and 51 meters wide (167 feet), with a draft of 14.4 meters (47 feet). Before the MSC Virgo, the largest container ship to call on Port Newark was the 13,100-TEU capacity MSC Cristina on April 14, 2021.
The arrival of the MSC Virgo showcases the Port of New York and New Jersey’s ability to handle the world’s largest container ships, an outcome of crucial investments by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the past few years. Improvements such as the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Program, which increased the air draft of the Port Authority bridge to 215 feet, and the Harbor Deepening Program, which created a 50-foot-deep shipping channel, readied the seaport to welcome ultra-large container vessels.