There was no formal ceremony or grand speech like the one the colossal cargo ship got when she cruised into the Port of Savannah on Friday.

Instead, the 1,200-foot-long COSCO Development got a quiet welcome from a creature that probably witnessed the ship’s arrival in Charleston on Saturday morning from the most interesting vantage point.

Just as the largest cargo ship to ever call on the Port of Charleston and the entire U.S. East Coast neared the Ravenel Bridge, a dolphin surfaced, as if to greet it.

Russell Bryant, of Mount Pleasant, captured the moment on his iPhone. He was at the South Carolina Aquarium with his wife and two boys when the massive container ship cruised into Charleston.

"I didn't know it was coming, but was excited to see it once I realized what it was," Bryant said of the vessel.

Bryant, 32, said that's when he pulled out his cellphone to take a photo. When he did, the bottlenose dolphin rose out of the water.

"It was special because I got it by accident," he said.

After living in the Charleston area for most of his life, Bryant has seen his share of ships and dolphins. But seeing the ship Saturday, he said, will be hard to forget.

"I’m used to seeing them, but this particular one just caught my eye," he said.

And it’s easy to see why.

The ship, which is as long as the Eiffel Tower is tall, was hard to miss. From bow-to-stern, the ship measures 1,200 feet in length, and is 158 feet wide.

Put another way, the ship is so long that both the Statue of Liberty and Washington Monument could fit end-to-end along its deck and still have room for Big Ben. Or, using landmarks from the Palmetto State, it would take four South Carolina Statehouse buildings pushed together to make up the length of the COSCO Development.

Though it was drizzling when the ship came to Charleston, the weather did not deter those determined enough to see it. Standing beneath umbrellas, a crowd of at least 25 people stood and took photos of the vessel as she roared past Sullivan’s Island.

People also gathered at Waterfront Memorial Park to see the ship pass beneath the Ravenel Bridge. About 150 gathered at Hobcaw Yacht Club in Mount Pleasant to watch it approach its final destination at the port. 

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When the COSCO Development docked at the Wando Welch Terminal, it was the culmination of years of making ready.

"There's been a preparation for this event that's been ongoing for five years," Steve Kemp, the SPA's senior director of terminal strategy, facility operations and maintenance told The Post and Courier.

Charleston will be the last East Coast stop for the boat, which is owned by the China-based COSCO Shipping Lines.

The ship will depart from Charleston on Sunday evening to head back to Asia. The behemoth will not be making a stop in North Carolina.

In addition to it being the largest container ship to ever dock on the East Coast, the COSCO Development is also the largest to pass through the Panama Canal.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd. John McDermott of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.