CMA CGM Marco Polo visits UK for first time

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Marco Polo in Southampton
Image caption,
The ship arrived in Southampton early on Sunday morning

The world's largest container ship has visited Southampton as part of its first trip to Europe.

The Marco Polo is 54m (177ft) wide and 396m (1,299ft) long, and was packed with goods for the festive period.

Chris Lewis, of port operator DP World Southampton, said Marco Polo's arrival was the "latest milestone" in the port's development.

The UK-registered vessel is 51m (167ft) longer than Queen Mary 2. Onboard were 27 crew members.

Much of the cargo was consumer goods destined for businesses and shops in time for Christmas.

Two berths at Southampton port are currently undergoing redevelopment to handle the new generation of similar large container ships.

Earlier in December Associated British Ports (ABP) secured a marine licence to widen the channel at Marchwood Moorings by 30m (98ft) to make it easier for such ships to turn around.

On Sunday, when the ship arrived, Mr Lewis said: "Today we mark the latest milestone in the terminal's history, handling the world's largest container vessel and underlining Southampton's capabilities and vital role in the forefront of global trade.

"With the container industry changing, these new giants of the sea will soon be regulars at the terminal."

The ship left Southampton on Monday afternoon.

'Longer and wider'

The CMA CGM Group took delivery of the ship on 5 November.

The Marco Polo's captain, Velibor Krpan, has described it as "longer and wider than any other vessel in the fleet, it does... require much closer attention during berthing and unberthing procedures".

He added: "Regards navigation, fundamentally it is no different but you have to adapt quickly to the new technologies on board."

Southampton is its only UK port of call.

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