The baton for the world’s largest containership has changed hands several times in just over a decade whilst the capacity of the ships has grown considerably. Maersk Line’s EClass was arguably the turning point in the construction of Very Large Container Vessels (VLCV), which heralded the birth of the Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV) and thus set a benchmark as the world’s largest series of containerships. The Emma Maersk was the first in the series of eight, followed by the Estelle, Eleanora, Evelyn, Ebba, Elly, Edith and Eugen Maersk between 2006 and 2008. These 171,542gt, 397.7m long and 56.4m beam ships have a capacity for 15,500 TEU containers. The capacity threshold was further extended when CMA CGM introduced their 16,020 TEU Explorer Class in 2012. The 399m long, 54m beam and 175,343gt CMA CGM Marco Polo was followed by the CMA CGM Alexander von Humboldt and CMA CGM Jules Verne in 2013. The capacity of this class was expanded to 17,722 TEU for the CMA CGM Bougainville and CMA CGM Kerguelen and to 17,859 TEU for the 178,228gt CMA CGM Vasco de Gama, CMA CGM Zheng He and CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin. The CMA CGM Georg Forster was the final class member and her capacity was announced as 18,000 TEU. The Explorer Class was quickly superseded in 2013 by Maersk Line’s 194,849gt, 400m long and 59m beam Triple E Class, the first of which was the Marsk Mc-Kinney Moller. This 18,270 TEU ship was followed by the Madison Maersk, Majestic Maersk, Magleby Maersk, Mary Maersk and Marie Maersk. The baton was passed to UASC in 2015 when the 195,636gt, 400m long and 58.6m beam Barzan, the first of 6 ships, was delivered with a capacity of 18,800 TEU. China Shipping Co. Ltd. then stepped up to the mark 2014-2015 with the 399.67m long, 58.6m beam and 187,541gt CSCL Globe/Pacific Ocean/Indian Ocean/Atlantic Ocean and Arctic Ocean. These had capacity for 19,100 TEU. MSC’s Pegasus Class ships followed 2015-2017 with the MSC Oscar being the first of these 399.994m long, 59m wide and 192,237gt series of ships. The 19,224 TEU capacity ship was followed by sisters MSC Diana, MSC Ditte, MSC Eloane, MSC Erica, MSC Ingy, MSC Jade, MSC Leanne, MSC Maya, MSC Mirja, MSC Mirjan, MSC Oliver, MSC Reef, MSC Rifaya, MSC Tina, and MSC Zoe.

In 2017 the baton was passed no less than three times in the first half of the year. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines’ 400m long, 58.8m beam and 210,678gt MOL Triumph surpassed the 20,000 TEU barrier with capacity for 20,170 containers. Two sisters, MOL Tribute/Trust were delivered in the following months with three other units to follow. It was Maersk Line’s turn again in April 2017, just two weeks after the MOL Triumph, when the initial 20,568 TEU Second Generation Triple E ship arrived in the form of the 399m long 58.6m beam and 214,286gt Madrid Maersk. Her sisters will include the Munich Maersk, Moscow Maersk, Milan Maersk, Monaco Maersk & Marseille Maersk. This impressive capacity was again bettered in May when the 399.87m long, 58.8m beam and 210,890gt OOCL Hong Kong emerged with a cargo capacity of 21,413 TEU. The next ships in the series of 6 were to be the OOCL Germany, OOCL Japan, OOCL Scandinavia and OOCL United Kingdom. The last time that OOCL set the world record for the largest containership was back in April 2003 with the 8,063 TEU OOCL Shenzhen.

A Record Holder – Briefly

Four years after the arrival of the first 194,849gt Triple-E vessel, the Marsk Mc-Kinney Moller, a 2nd Generation Triple E design joined the fleet upon arrival at the Chinese port of Tianjin in April 2017. The debut of the 214,286gt Madrid Maersk marked the first of 27 ships that will join the fleet in 2017/2018, including eleven 2nd Generation Triple-E ships. Upon delivery, the 18,270 TEU capacity Triple E Class held the world’s largest containership title (in terms of capacity) 2013-2015 but the first 20,568 TEU capacity 2nd Generation ship lost her “world’s largest” crown in a matter of days when the OOCL behemoth arrived. The original Triple E Class ships numbered 20 in build and were constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding, a contract worth $1.9 billion, with a similar price tag being applied to the new generation order. The Triple E title for this design of ship is derived from the three design principles employed, namely Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved. The ships were also the longest of their type when introduced at 399 metres. Capacity of the Triple-Es was 2,500 more TEUs than the 2006 built E Class and the 2nd Generation Triple-Es (EEE Mark II) can carry 2,298 TEUs more than their predecessors.

Maersk Line can trace its origins back to 1928 when, following a decision by A.P. Moller to enter the liner trade, the Leise Maersk departed from Baltimore on 12th July of that year on her first voyage from the American East Coast via the Panama Canal to the Far East and back. The cargo consisted of Ford car parts and other general cargo. Maersk Line began to grow in 1946 after the Second World War by transporting goods between America and Europe before expanding services in 1950. On 26th April 1956, ocean-borne container transport was introduced with the shipment of a Sea-Land container aboard the SS Ideal X from Port Newark, New Jersey, to Houston, Texas. In 1967, U.K carrier P&O was part of the first European initiative, a pooling of liner services from four companies, into the new company Overseas Containers Limited (OCL), so today’s combined operations are nothing new! P&O (by then P&O Nedlloyd) would later be taken over by Maersk Line as it further expanded operations in 2005. In 1999, Maersk acquired Safmarine Container Lines (SCL) and Safmarine and then SeaLand Service Inc. The A. P. Moller-Maersk Group is currently the world’s largest container shipping company with over 640 ships. The company has a TEU capacity of approximately 3.4 million, which equates to a 16.3% share of the global market.


Both generations of Triple-E were built by Daewoo Shipbuilding (DSME) in South Korea. The company was founded in 1973 at Okpo Bay, Geoje Island, located on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, with aspirations to be the world leader in shipbuilding. DSME has since grown into the world’s premium shipbuilding and offshore contractor specialising in building various vessels, offshore platforms, drilling rigs, FPSO/FPUs, submarines, and destroyers. The shipyard spans an area of 4.3 million square metres and the site encompasses the world’s largest building dock with a million-ton capacity, optimised for building high-tech motor vessels using cutting-edge equipment, including a 900-ton goliath crane. Since being reborn as an independent company in October 2000, DSME has developed considerably.

E for Efficiency

Unlike conventional single-engine container ships, the two variations of the Triple-E class are fitted with a twin-skeg design featuring, in the case of the EEE Mark II, two Doosan Engine Co. Ltd. Doosan-MAN 7G80ME-C9.5-TII units that each drive a 10.20m diameter bronze-ABS Type 4 Ni-Al propeller supplied by the Nakashima Propeller Co. Ltd. The 7-cylinder diesel engines each have an 800mm cylinder bore, a 3,720mm piston stroke, run at 70.5rpm MCR and offer an output of 31,000kW.

The main engine design is optimised for IMO Tier II compliance, having electronic control for enhanced fuel and lube-oil consumption, and improved low-load operation. The original Triple-E ships have 8-cylinder Doosan 8S80ME-C 9.2 engines. A single engine ship is usually deemed more efficient but using two propellers allows a better distribution of pressure, which increases the propeller efficiency more than the disadvantage of using two engines. The engines are also equipped with waste heat recovery (WHR) systems whilst the twin-skeg principle means that the engines can be lower and further aft, allowing more room for cargo. Maersk required ultra-long stroke two-stroke engines running at 70-80 rpm, something not achievable with a single engine due to the increased size of propeller required, which would compromise the ship’s design draught. A slower speed of 16-19 knots is designed, compared to the 23-26 knots of similar ships in days gone by. We’re now in the age of Slow Steaming to enhance economy and fuel consumption with this practice reducing the latter by over 37% and carbon dioxide emissions by around 50%. The downside of course is that these slower speeds add 2–6 days to journey times. The various environmental features, including four Alfa Laval Qingdao Ltd. exhaust scrubbers, cost in the regions of $30 million per ship, of which the WHR costs $10 million. Manoeuvrability is enhanced with the Madrid Maersk and her forthcoming fleet mates thanks to the installation of two 65sqm rudders. Two 2,500kW Kawasaki transverse tunnel thrusters are also fitted in the bow. Auxiliary power is provided via five MAN Diesel/STX/HHI Electro Electric System units plus two 2,000kW GE Energy Power Conversion shaft generators. The ship can carry 14,388m3/14,319t of Heavy Fuel Oil in 14 fuel tanks, 515m3/463t of diesel oil in 3 tanks and 895m3 of fresh water in 6 tanks.

The Madrid Maersk and her record breaking rivals feature a Ushaped hull cross section rather than a V-shape, thus allowing more containers to be stowed at lower levels. The hull structure features 20 watertight bulkheads and 35 ballast tanks. The EEE Mark II ships carry a greater amount of cargo (12% increase) but the hull dimensions are almost the same (399m long with a 58.60m beam). This provides a 7% gain in efficiency compared to the first batch of Triple Es. The cargo area (451,592.4m3) layout remains at 24 container bays bow to stern and 23 rows of containers from port to starboard. However, with the second generation vessels, the bridge/deckhouse has been moved two container bays towards the bow, the engine room has moved one bay aft and smaller engines (in terms of dimensions and weight) have been installed. The weight savings increased the ship’s deadweight capacity to 210,019dwt compared to 194,500dwt on the first batch of ships.

The hull is also deeper to accommodate one extra tier of containers in the holds (33.20m hull depth compared to 30.30m with an increased draught of 50cm) and heightened lash bridges allow an additional tier of containers on deck, making 12 in total. The repositioned forward deckhouse allows containers to be stacked higher in front of the bridge, further increasing capacity while maintaining forward visibility sufficient to comply with SOLAS regulation V/22.

Into Battle

The Madrid Maersk was handed over on 3rd April at DSME’s Okpo yard in South Korea having been launched on 10th December 2016 as Yard No. 4302. The overall height of the ship is 75.70m and her deckhouse offers accommodation for up to 28 crewmembers. The new ships are being deployed within the 2M’s Asia- Europe network in competition with services offered by the rival vessel sharing groups of the Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance. The EEE Mark IIs will replace smaller, less efficient vessels with the delivery programme expected to be completed by DSME in May 2018. The Madrid Maersk made her maiden call on 27th April at Tianjin under the command of Captain Niels P.H. Larsen and her rotation on the 2M NEU2 service brought her to Felixstowe from Algeciras on 6th June to offload around 6,000 containers before continuing to Antwerp and Rotterdam.

Special thanks must go to Michael Christian Storgaard, Senior Press Officer, Transport & Logistics Division, for all the invaluable assistance with information, diagrams and images.
(Michael has since left his position at Maersk Line).


Contract Date: 2nd June 2015
Steel Cutting: 12th October 2015
Keel Laid: 20th November 2015
Launched: 10th December 2016
Delivery: 7th April 2017
Maiden Voyage: 27th April 2017
Shipyard: Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd.
Place of build: Okpo Bay, Geoje Island, South Korea.
Yard No: 4302
Owner: Maersk Line A/S, Esplanaden 50, 1098 Copenhagen, K,
Operator: Maersk Line A/S, Esplanaden 50, 1098 Copenhagen, K,
IMO: 9778791
Flag: Denmark
Port of Registry: København
Classification: A1, Container Carrier, AMS, CCU, FL 25, SH, CPS, SHCM
Ship Type: Container Vessel
Length Overall: 399.00 metres
Length (BP): 378.50 metres
Beam (Moulded): 58.60 metres
Hull Depth (Moulded): 33.20 metres (deck edge to keel)
Draught (Design): 16.50 metres
Height: 75.70 metres (above baseline), 59.70m (above waterline)
Gross Tonnage: 214,286
Net Tonnage: 78,834t
Deadweight: 190,326
Design Deadwight: 210,019
Bulbous Bow Length: 8.40 metres
Freeboard: 6,830mm
Main Engine: 2x Doosan Engine Co. Ltd. Doosan-MAN 7G80ME-C9.5-TII
  Manufacturer Numbers DML0106011 & DML0106012
  7-cylinder/800mm cylinder bore/3,720mm piston stroke & 31,000kW output 70.5rpm @ MCR
Propellers: 2x Nakashima Propeller Co. Ltd. – Bronze-ABS-Type 4 Ni-Al Bronze 10.2m diameter
Propeller Shafts: 2x Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. Ltd. Oil Lubricated
  Auxiliary Engines: MAN Diesel/STX/HHI (1x 4,600kW/2x 3,840kW & 2x 2,880kW) Shaft Generator: 2x 2,000kW GE Energy Power Conversion
Bow Thrusters: 2x 2,500kW Kawasaki Units
Boiler: 1x Alfa Laval Qingdao Ltd.
Exhaust Scrubbers: 4x Alfa Laval Qingdao Ltd.
Service Speed: 16 knots
Maximum Speed: 23 knots
Fuel: Heavy Fuel Oil/Diesel Oil
Anchor Equipment: U-62, High Holding Power + 137mm diameter chain Crew Accommodation: 24 Persons (28 Maximum)
Provision Cranes: 2x Oriental Precision & Engineering Co. units – 2t & 5t SWL
Design: 19,620 TEU
Maximum: 20,568 TEU
Reefer Plugs: 1,000


Sorry, comments are closed for this item