The world of Merchant Shipping has recently seen records broken.
In November the 235,311gt container ship ONE Integrity of Ocean Network Express loaded at Singapore with a record of 21,954 TEUs. She is one of several container ships with a nominal capacity of 24,000 TEUs. If we go back to the start of containerisation, the first container ship was the converted tanker Ideal X of Malcom McLean’s Sealand. She had a capacity of a mere 58 33-foot containers!
In 2006 the 171,542gt Emma Maersk hit the headlines when she entered service. She was able to carry 14,770 TEUs and a crew of just thirteen.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas. Photo: Nigel Lawrence

At the end of November the 248,633gt cruise ship Icon of the Seas was delivered to Royal Caribbean International. She is the largest passenger ship ever built with a capacity of 7,600 passengers and a crew of 2,350.
When will this increase in size come to an end or will it?
As for container ships the Megamax Class of 400 metres in length are limited as to which ports they can use. Will the trend lead to these ports being used as hubs and then smaller ships be used to trans-ship to the ports that are not able to handle the giants. This already takes place to a certain extent. There are currently over 100 of such vessels.
In the cruise industry it is hard to imagine ships larger than the Icon of the Seas entering the market. However, who would have believed we would have arrived at a ship of this size.
Progress will continue to take place and it will be most interesting to see how the size of ships develop in the future.

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