Big Ships Getting Bigger

Carrying billions of tonnes of cargo across our Oceans every year, there is no secret that the demand for container ships is high. The vast improvement in efficiency of container shipping has been noted throughout the world of logistics, with ships getting larger and more eco-friendly the maritime boom continues.

However the revolution refuses to stop at 17,000 TEU ships (twenty foot equivalent units). Maersk’s Triple E line was thought to be something revolutionary, but it was never going to be long until someone came along and built a bigger ship, was it?

Mitsui OSK Lines have confirmed they are in advanced talks to begin chartering 18,000 TEU container ships, enabling a reduced unit cost allowing them to compete with the giants of the Sea Freight world. Surely this is as big as they can possibly get, you think? Well, according to recent analyst reports it will soon be possible to build super-sized container ships with 24,000 TEU capacity, however it could be limited by crane outreach and drafts. These super ships could not physically travel through the Suez Canal.

China Shipping Lines sent their brand new super ship the ‘CSCL Globe’ on its maiden voyage on the 7th December 2014. With a capacity of 19,000 TEU the vessel has broken Maersk’s record, despite being just under half a meter thinner than their ‘Triple-E line’. The CSCL Globe is the first of 5 of these super ships ordered by China shipping lines from ship manufacturer Hyundai Heavy industries Ltd in May last year to reach the water.

If all of this Shipping jargon doesn’t make sense to you a twenty foot equivalent unit is a 20ft container or half of a 40ft container. A ship with a capacity of 24,000 TEU can carry 24,000 twenty foot containers. To make it clear just how much that is; stacked on top of each other they total 480,000 feet tall and would stand around 10 times higher than any plane in the sky. A container ship of 18,000 TEU could contain 540,000 CBM of cargo; roughly a golf ball for every person on the planet.

With the planned vessel size increases, the shipping lines will most certainly have to increase the demand for their service or risk journeys with a lot of empty space. The more likely plan of action however, will be artificial rate increases known as GRI’s. They will drop services to increase the volume of cargo on board each ship, allowing them to increase rates according to demand. Anyhow, in the long run the larger vessels should make Sea freight more price efficient than ever before.

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