Thursday, January 8, 2015

As Container Ships Get Bigger the Freight and Logistics World Looks On

Biggest Vessel Title Will be Short Lived as MSC Box Carrier Prepares to Sail
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – With the media frenzy surrounding the arrival at Felixstowe of the world’s largest container ship (by capacity) the CSCL Globe, freight and logistics professionals will be smiling wryly knowing this is a title which will soon be surrendered to the next mega vessel to slide off the blocks, the MSC Oscar, the Mediterranean Shipping Company behemoth scheduled to undertake her maiden voyage on January 25. In the past year or so we have seen this accolade bestowed on various vessels and of course there are different parameters to decide what constitutes ‘biggest’.

It is generally accepted that TEU capacity is the best measure of a box ship, for example the MSC Oscar is around half a metre shorter than the Globe but slightly wider in the beam and has a declared capacity of 19,224 twenty foot containers as against the Globe’s 19,100. Maersk of course are responsible in part for this competitive melee with all the publicity they gave to the *Triple E series, which is seen by many as starting the whole thing.

The fact is that we’re now seeing ships of hitherto undreamt of proportions, and in scenes reminiscent of bygone days, huge crowds of people turning up at docks around the globe to take a look at the monsters for themselves. There is no way words can adequately describe the size of these ships but some oft quoted statistics give an idea of the scale. The length of four football pitches, the fact that laid end to end a full load of containers from the MSC Oscar would stretch almost 73 miles, and, perhaps most illustrative, a full load aboard would mean a cargo of computers would be sufficient for every man, woman and child in the UK to have one, with quite a few spare (not quite the five each being quoted elsewhere but still pretty impressive).

One thing is however certain, with their ultra-efficient engines producing overall less noxious emissions these vessels involved in the 'biggest boat arms race' are fine whilst they maximise capacity. Should we ever return to the dark days of 2008 when we saw vessels laid up across the world one must consider the possibility that a downturn in trade may lead to some very fierce infighting for the tonnages available.

*Maersk in fact do not release overall TEU capacity, rather the capacity of loaded TEU’s with an average load of 14 tonnes up to the vessel’s maximum weight allowance.

Photo: In a shot which perfectly illustrates yesterday’s article regarding the difficulties of freeing container lashings, a worker uses a long pole high above ground level to release the pull cords on container securing devices.