In last month’s edition I commented on the increasing size of cruise ships but it is also worth noting that the size of container ships seems to be rising every month.

Only in 1996 the 81,488gt Regina Maersk became the world’s first 6,000 TEU container ship when she was launched at the company’s Odense Staalskibs yard at Lindo.

Ten years later the world was amazed to see the huge 170,794 gt Emma Maersk, able to carry 15,500 TEU, enter service. She was followed by seven identical sisters.

In June 2013 Maersk Line introduced the 194,849 gt Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller which can carry 18,340 TEU. The intial order was for ten ships but this was inceased to 20 vessels.

Recently China Shipping’s 187,541 gt CSCL Globe became the largest container ship in the world with a capacity of 19,100 TEU.

Now we have the 192,237 gt MSC Oscar which can carry 19,224 TEU. MSC Oscar was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering at Okpo is 395.4 metres long and 59 metres wide.

The new record-holder is one of three ships of similar size ordered for MSC. MSC’s orderbook also includes another six of nominal 19,000 TEU capacity, while Emanuele Lauro’s Scorpio Group is negotiating to order three 20,000 TEU ships that will be bareboat chartered to MSC.

Idan Ofer’s Quantum Pacific Group recently took a stake in this project.


Japan’s MOL is thought to be very close to placing an order for up to six of that size, through a lease agreement, for deployment within an Asia-Europe loop operated by the G6 alliance.

Another member of that consortium, OOCL, is expected to sign contracts soon for the same number of ships so as to complete the set needed for a service.

Evergreen has also said it is considering orders for ultra-large boxships.

Where will this end?

Obviously, the economics of running a large ship with a very small crew are attractive, and the green lobby will be pleased that the carbon emissions per container will be much lower on the larger ships.

The various environmental features on the Maersk Triple E class cost $30 million per ship, of which the Waste Heat Recovery System costs $10 million. Carbon dioxide emissions, per container, are expected to be 50% lower than emissions by typical ships on the Asia-Europe route and 20% lower than the Emma Maersk ‘E’ class. These are the most efficient containerships in the world, per TEU.

So it looks as if big will be beautiful for some time to come. The disadvantages of such large vessels may not yet be apparent.

One problem is the berth size at some ports and the port-side infrastructure to deal with vessels of this size. We will see what happens in the next ten years.



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Container Line News

Editor's log this month concerns the ever increasing size of container ships.

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