The battle for the largest container ship is on. An ocean shipping company builds a record-breaking new vessel, and yet just months later a competitor announces the construction of an even larger ship. As the competition picks up, the pace of progress increases right alongside it.
The Old Champion (Maersk Triple E)
As of July 2013, Maersk’s Triple E vessels had the title of the largest container ships in the world. Four hundred meters long and 59 meters wide, each ship has a TEU capacity of 18,000. That put it far ahead of the previous largest ship, which has a 16,020 TEU capacity. Maersk mainly uses twenty Triple E vessels on the busy Asia- Europe shipping route. Yet the Triple E only managed to hang onto its title for just over a year.
The New Challenger (CSCL Globe)
In November 2014, China Shipping Container Lines revealed the construction of a new container ship, the Globe, aiming to take the title for largest vessel on the high seas. Despite having slightly less volume than the Triple E, the CSCL Globe surpasses the older model with a carrying capacity of 19,000 TEU.
The Globe is 400 meters long and 58 meters wide, suggesting that efficient design rather than increased size is the reason for its expanded shipping capacity. The ship also covers the long Asia- Europe trade route. Hyundai Heavy Industries, a South Korean company known for building the first 10,000 TEU container ship in 2010, was responsible for the construction of the record-breaking Globe.
On the Horizon (MSC Oscar)
Like the Triple E, it looks like the Globe won’t be able to hang on to its title of the largest container ship in the world for very long. The Mediterranean Shipping Company recently announced that its newest container ship, the Oscar, will go into service in January 2015. The Oscar has a carrying capacity of 19,224 TEU, which is just slightly larger than that of the CSCL Globe.
However, the Oscar is 395 feet long and 59 feet wide, making it a tad bit smaller in physical size than both the CSCL Globe and the Triple E. The apparent contradiction has left many wondering how ship designers are managing to increase capacity without increasing size.
The fact that the Globe held the title of the world’s largest container ship for only two months, while its predecessor held it for sixteen, suggests that the competition is heating up. Mike Schuler of Captain Maritime News predicts that the construction of a 20,000 TEU container ship is not far off. If he is correct, it is possible that container ships will have doubled in capacity from 10,000 to 20,000 TEU in a mere five years.
Be sure to check out this 2 minute video featuring the production of this massive ship.
Just How Big Are These Ships? A Little Perspective.
To put the size of these container ships into perspective, the smallest of them is far too large to pass through the Panama Canal, even considering the New Panamax dimensions. Of course, none of these ships are designed to pass through the Panama Canal because none of them need to in order to complete the Asia-Europe shipping route. However, it gives a base of comparison for the truly gigantic size of these container ships.
The Prelude FLNG
Outside the realm of container shipping, companies are gearing up to construct even more massive vessels. The Prelude FLNG, a natural gas production ship expected to be ready for sailing by 2017, is 488 meters long and 74 meters wide. The ship is longer than the Empire State Building is tall and is designed to withstand category 5 cyclones. Shell, the Prelude’s owner, is already working on the design for an even larger ship.
The upcoming generation of sea-going vessels promises to be more enormous than could possibly have been imagined even a few short years ago.