Largest container ship ever to visit U.S. leaving Port of Oakland

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The largest container ship to ever visit the U.S. is heading back out to sea Monday afternoon, departing from the Port of Oakland, port officials said.

The 1,300-foot-long CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin is set to leave around 1:15 p.m. It arrived in the Bay Area on New Year's Eve.

The megaship made its maiden voyage from Asia, bringing beverages, furniture, glassware, plastics, electronics and steel products from China.

It stopped at Los Angeles first before arriving to Oakland, and the ship will export agricultural products and other items back to Asia, port officials said.

CMA CGM, based in Marseilles, France, expects the Benjamin Franklin to return to Oakland regularly, hauling cargo between China, South Korea and the West Coast.

The vessel is 20 stories tall and can carry 18,000 shipping containers.

The Port of Oakland spent millions of dollars over multiple years to prepare for the arrival of megaships like the Benjamin Franklin by dredging port channels to 50 feet, raising cranes and modernizing terminals.

Oakland is home to one of just a few U.S. ports that can handle a ship that large.