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(NECN: Peter Howe, South Boston, Mass.) Boston got a special visitor Wednesday: The first appearance here of China Ocean Shipping Company's gigantic container ship, the Cosco Boston. The 964-foot, 68,000-ton ship has been plying the seas since 2007, but had never yet sailed in to her namesake port. That warranted a special welcome from Massachusetts Port Authority fire boats, who greeted Cosco Boston's arrival to the Conley Terminal in Southie with a festive spray display. "It just signifies how important Cosco and New England and Boston are to each other,'' said Massport Port Director Mike Leone. "What's really important is this is the largest ship that can go through the Panama Canal. It's the largest ship we've seen from Asia,'' creating thousands of more shipping slots for New England importers and exporters. Only four other U.S. cities merit a ship named for them by Cosco: New York, Norfolk, Long Beach, Calif., and Seattle. There's enough room on Cosco Boston for 5,089 20-foot-long shipping containers, which typically are filled with goods like Chinese frozen seafood, furniture, and consumer goods, and on the return trip China-bound lumber and exports. Just how huge is this ship? If you filled it with the maximum load of shipping containers, took them out, and laid them end to end, they would stretch 19 miles. Howe: We proud New Englanders can agree, Cosco Boston is one ship big enough to live up to her name. (With videographer Christopher Garvin.)