First cargo ship sails to Vietnam

June 4, 2009
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, VIETNAM, June 4 – The first cargo ship directly linking Vietnam to its biggest export market in the United States set sail Thursday, the shipping firm and a port worker said.

The worker at the new Saigon Port-PSA terminal in southern Vietnam said the APL Denver had left on its 15-day journey to the US west coast city of Seattle.

It is the "first ever direct service to the US" from Vietnam, company spokesman Paul Barrett told AFP, adding that US-bound cargo was previously routed through Singapore.

The service began days after the Saigon Port-PSA facility opened, becoming the first deepwater container terminal serving the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, said APL, a unit of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines.

"With this port, the first direct shipping service from Vietnam to North America is possible," Vietnam\’s deputy transport minister, Tran Doan Tho, was quoted as saying in the state Vietnam News at the weekend.

Previously, Vietnam\’s exporters have had to rely on small feeder vessels to connect with larger ships for access to the worlds major consuming markets, APL said.

The shipping firm\’s president, Eng Aik Meng, has said the start of a direct US service is recognition that Vietnam "is delivering on its commitment to modernise transportation infrastructure such as state-of-the-art port facilities capable of handling large deepwater containerships."

Officials and industry figures attended a ceremony on Wednesday to launch the service, which will run weekly, from the new port on the Cai Mep River in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.

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