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The container ship CMA CGM Marco Polo unloads cargo at the PSA Halifax container berth in Halifax on May 18. The vessel is the largest to ever visit Canada. At 396 metres long, a length equivalent to more than 3.5 football fields, the ship can carry around 16,000 shipping containers.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The largest container ship to visit a Canadian port spent the day in Halifax on Tuesday, generating a bit of buzz on social media.

The CMA CGM Marco Polo is 396 metres long — almost as long as three Canadian football fields — and can carry the equivalent of 16,022 containers that are each 20-feet long.

Lane Farguson, a spokesman for the Port of Halifax, said the ship was delivering goods from South Asia and China.

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Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin posted a tweet saying the ship was being loaded with Nova Scotia blueberries, potatoes and other fresh produce for ports abroad.

“It is the biggest cargo ship ever to call at a Canadian port and is here because of our great infrastructure and naturally deep-water harbour,” the premier said.

“Big ships represent jobs and opportunities in all corners of the province .... We are thrilled the Marco Polo is here.”

The premier’s tweet, which featured a photo of him meeting with Allan Gray, president of the Halifax Port Authority, prompted some people to question whether his trip to the port was essential in the midst of a pandemic.

The province has been under strict lockdown measures since April 28 when the third wave of COVID-19 arrived in the Maritimes. Since then, Rankin has encouraged people to limit their travel — even within their own communities.

The PSA Halifax container berth, which is 800 metres long, is the only port in Eastern Canada that can accommodate this type of ultra-class vessel. An extension of the port’s south-end container terminal opened last October.

“Saltwater is in our veins,” Gray said in a statement. “We know how to handle these big ships and turn them around.”

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According to the website Marineinsight.com, as of early 2021 the largest container ship in the world is the 400-metre HMM Algeciras. It can carry almost 24,000 containers, and it is one of 12 ships in that class.

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