MSC Sofia Celeste 1

The MSC Sofia Celeste is currently at the Port of Tilbury 

Shipping firm MSC’s neo-panama vessel Sofia Celeste made its first call to London this week as it arrived into the London Container Terminal (LCT) in Tilbury.

The ship, which has a capacity of around 8,800 TEUs, arrived following its first transit of the newly enlarged Panama Canal and is the first to call into the UK after this journey. It is also the first in a new class of vessels on a reconfigured service connecting the west coast of South America, east coast of North America and northwest Europe.

The new service comes as a result of the opening of the Panama Canal Expansion in June this year, which now allows larger vessels to cross the famous waterway.

LCT head of commercial, Ross McKissock, said: “It is very exciting for us all here at LCT to see neo panamax class vessels in our port this weekend. The MSC Sofia Celeste marks a step change in connectivity for Tilbury’s customers offering much improved links to the growing S. American and Transatlantic market allied with access to Europe’s largest portside chill store which NFT opened at the port this year.”

Natasha Griffin, commercial import general manager for MSC, said: “Following the recent opening of the expanded Panama Canal, we have created this new service for our customers.

“It allows larger vessels to transit the canal, directly linking the US and South America with Europe. We are delighted to have called into London Container Terminal, following the vessel’s first voyage through the Canal, and we look forward to further developing services of this kind in the future.”

The MSC Sofia Celeste was completed in 2014 and has a capacity of 8,819 TEU’s, of which 1,462 can be used with refrigerated container plugs for transporting perishable cargo. It calls at Chile, Peru, Ecuador and the Bahamas, Philadelphia and then Rotterdam.