The biggest ship to ever call at a North American port has arrived in the port of Los Angeles, in an event that trade experts say signals a new era in transocean shipping.

Over the weekend, the CMA-CGM Benjamin Franklin arrived in the busiest deepwater port on the West Coast.

Recently delivered to the French shipping line CMA-CGM, the ship is nearly 400 metres long and 53 metres wide and has the capacity of nearly 18,000 containers. 

The Benjamin Franklin is about a third larger than the biggest container ships that currently call at the twin ports of Los Angeles and adjacent Long Beach. Together, the ports process about 40 per cent of all the container ships that arrive in the United States, moving more than $290 billion US worth of goods last year.

Ports in Asia and some in Europe are optimized for the latest class of giant ships, but those vessels are not yet prominent in North American waters.

CMA CMG BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin can hold 18,000 sea cans the size of a standard transport truck. (Tim Rue/Bloomberg)

The Port of Los Angeles and numerous other West Coast ports were plagued by congestion and shutdowns earlier this year, caused in part by a dispute with various workers' unions. But L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says the arrival of the Benjamin Franklin heralds a new era for trade.

"The arrival of the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin sends a powerful message that our port stands among the world's greatest, and that we are prepared to continue growing and adapting to the demands of our global economy," the mayor said.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that the Benjamin Franklin is almost five times as long as the Titanic was. It is larger — 400 metres to 269 for the Titanic — but not five times as large.
    Dec 28, 2015 2:17 PM ET