Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Biggest Freight Container Ship in the World Enters Service

Madrid Maersk Calls into Tianjin
Shipping News Feature
DENMARK – Maersk Line has once again reclaimed the title of the world's largest container vessel after the Madrid Maersk, a 20,568 TEU container vessel and the first 2nd generation Triple-E, called at the Port of Tianjin, China, the first port on its maiden voyage. Maersk takes the privilege from Japanese competitor Mitsui OSK Lines, which only received the 20,170 TEU MOL Triumph the month prior. These ultra-large container vessels were commissioned at a time when the wider shipping industry were more optimistic of a recovery in the maritime sector, instead of the consolidation and cooperation container carriers currently finds itself in the midst of, and the surprise bankruptcy Hanjin weighing heavily over the industry.

Deployed on Maersk's Asia – Europe service network, the Madrid Maersk is the first in a series of eleven 2nd generation Triple-E vessels, and the first of the 27 vessels Maersk Line ordered in 2015. Maersk Line will take delivery of the vessels until end of 2018 and they will replace older and less efficient tonnage. Maersk Line has not taken delivery of own new-buildings since July 2015.

Maersk Line’s remaining order book consists of ten 2nd generation Triple-E vessels, nine 15,226 TEU and seven 3,596 TEU container vessels. The order book corresponds to 11% of Maersk Line’s current fleet – a relatively small order book when compared to the industry’s order book of around 15%. Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer, said:

“Our strategy is to grow in line with our main competitors and we do that through a combination of buying new and used ships, and chartering vessels. These new vessels help modernise our fleet, significantly improve our operational efficiency and will help us achieve our growth ambitions, regardless of short-term economic cycles.

“If you look at our current order book and also the capacity we are able to return to charter owners, which is roughly 20%, we are in a pretty good position. We are expecting to grow this year, and expecting global growth of about 3%, but if those things don’t happen we also have a powerful ability to adjust our network to changing conditions in a way that many other shipping lines do not have.”

The new vessels types are designed and optimised for how the vessels are expected to operate, including which speeds will be sailed and what cargo will be loaded; however, the primary efficiency improvements in all of the new vessels are due to increases in container carrying capacity, which lowers energy usage and costs per container carried.

The 2nd generation Triple-E’s nominal capacity is 20,658 TEU, nearly 2,000 more than the prior generation but it manages this within a vessel body with nearly identical length, width and height. As a result, the 2nd generation is around 7% more efficient per container carried than the Triple-E.

Not to be outdone, the new H-Class vessels have a nominal capacity of 15,226 TEU and are able to carry nearly the same number of containers as the original design of the Emma class, but do so in a body that is 46 metres shorter. It is an important characteristic of a ship that was designed for operational versatility in order to take advantage of shifting trade patterns. The greater capacity allows it to efficiently serve on the East-West trades, while its smaller size means it is also capable of calling what are typically smaller ports on the North-South trades, if needed. Toft continued:

“Global growth may pick up this year or not, but these are factors we can’t control. What we can control is our position as the market leader and cost leader and we strengthen both of those with these new vessels, while continuing to actively manage and optimise our network, improve our utilisation and drive down our costs.”