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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

10 vessels to be added to Maersk - Triple E vessels of 18000 TEU

SHIP – its size is bemusing and on water it is treat to watch.  Its size has been growing bigger and speed ever increasing with modern technology.  By its sheer size  even a ripple from it would create waves. There are various types and commercially Container ships are perhaps most utilized and most viable in the group.  These are ships that carry different hues of cargo all packed and stowed inside intermodal containers – a technique called containerization. 

The dimensions of the vessel depend on the number of containers that it is intended to carry below the deck and on the deck, utilizing every single space for carriage cargo – optimum utilization of capacity to earn more revenue. Technically, it is stated that for one container box, ship design would involve a breadth of about 2.8 meters.  The capacity of these ships are generally expressed in TEU – Twenty foot equivalent units – which is more volumetric than the weight that the vessel is allowed to carry.  Some big vessel ply in the major ocean routes only and cannot call at smaller ports due to draft related issues.  There is the concept of feeder service i.e., smaller vessels with less TEU capacity which pick up containers from getaway ports and carry them for delivery at hinterland.

This apart the size of the vessel is also determined by the route they ply.  For example, the major route of Suez Canal connecting Mediterranean sea and Red Sea. This 163 km long canal allows shorter reach between Europe and Asia without circumventing Africa. At many places, the canal has only a single traffic lane and very large ships cannot pass through.

Further for the larger vessels, the propulsion requirement would be much stronger.  The launching of Emma Maersk was a pioneering one in many ways.  It was the first container ship in the elite E class of  A. P. Moller-Maersk Group.   In 2006, she was the the largest container ship ever built and as of now she and her seven sister ships are the longest container ships constructed and the longest ships currently in use.  Emma Maersk is officially certified to carry around 11000 TEU though by some reckoning she can carry closer to 14770 TEU.   In May 2010, sister vessel Ebba Maersk set a new record of 15,011 TEU in Tangier, Morocco, the highest no. in any vessel.

There are many players and Maersk Line is one of the leading liner shipping companies in the world, serving customers all over the globe.  Maersk is in the news on what some in the industry considers as improbable and not financially viable proposition.   Maersk Line fleet comprises more than 500 vessels and a number of containers corresponding to more than 1,900,000 TEU- this is a  division of the A.P. Moller - Maersk Group.

The logistics industry has been facing variety of problems and in a recessionary trend, commitment for such larger vessels would be difficult to come by.  The building prices have stabilized and perhaps are attractive to buyers which makes the owners test the water once again with placement of ultra large boxship orders.  There are expectations that the bigger ships would reign supreme with economies of scale and there are market talks of 20000TEU vessels becoming a reality at some point of future. 

Now market is agog with reports of Maersk ordering ten 18000 TEU triple – E container ships.  With this enormous capacity addition, Maersk Lines will move the greatest numbers of containers.  Triple E is not in comparison to any vessel available now, but would be  the longest and widest container vessel possible based on port restrictions. In effect these would be of a larger magnitude than the largest ones conceived thus far. Some reports have it that these vessel could be more of U-shape than the conventional V shape which in someways is restrictive of container capacity in the bottom of cargo holds.  These new vessels are to have additional capacity of a row also making it 23 rows across their width. 

Maersk is reported to have contracted Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd ordering ten 18000 Teus. The reports put the orders to be of  2 trillion won ($1.8 billion) value.  The delivery is scheduled to be between 2013 and 2015.  There could be further orders also. 

The news is authenticated by the release of Maersk Line which mentions of signing of contract for 10 of the World’s largest, most efficient container vessels with an option to buy another 20.  It claims that the new giant vessels will be known as Triple-E, based on the three main purposes for their creation:
           Economy of scale
           Energy efficiency
           Environmentally improved
These Triple E vessels will be  400 metres long, 59 metres wide and 73 metres tall and cost  USD 190 million per vessel (a whopping Rs.860 crores) setting a new benchmark in the industry for the size, addition and costs.  Maersk also claims that these will have lowest possible amount of CO2 emissions — an astonishing 50% less CO2 per container moved than the industry average on the Asia–Europe trade.

The bigger vessels are restrictive as they can operate only on Asia Europe service .   If one of these ships were to call at an Indian Port, it would be mind boggling to think of the rail racks or trucks needed to clear the containers that would be off loaded from the vessel at Port, not to get bewildered of the cranes and the time that would take for such off loading………..  Big is Beautiful and Bemusing  !!

Now coming to the superstructure of HULL that would carry the containers and sail – ship building is the construction which takes place in specialized facilities.  There are European and American markets but Chinese and Koreans are giving them the great fight establishing supremacy. 

Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd (DSME) has earned name for quality construction and have undertaken large scale projects of oil producers.  DSME,  was established in 1973  and is at Okpo Bay, Geoje Island, on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula.  It is stated that they use  3-dimensional computer flow analysis and simulation at the basic design stage to design vessels of excellent navigation performance and economical efficiency. Basic hull form is modelled in consideration of deadweight, speed and engine performance.

There are also some builders in India and long to board  a vessel of this size built in India calling in an Indian Port……….. whether it is within the realms of possibility is ………………

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.


  1. nice one on ships. have never had occasion to see a big ship closer - Gupta.

  2. Sir, have been regularly browsing your blog - primarily for insurance but getting enriched on GK as well - Bhavani

  3. just a thought on super structure- overall to fill these big ships maerkline & any other shipping line would depen upon freight forwarder which means lower freight rates but by circumfeencing cape of good hope, inspite of acomodating 16% more containers, the operating costs would be still higher.

    It seems that inspite of triple E, profitability would not be that high as per the tall claims by the shipping industry.