Container ship almost twice as long as Titanic and larger ships to come

The Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCV) will take over shipping routes between Asia and Europe, as smaller containerships are no longer seen as competitive when it comes to unit costs, compared to behemoth Maersk Line Triple-E 18,000 TEU ULCV, says industry analyst Alphaliner. The Triple-E container ship is almost twice as long as the Titanic. They are lover 5 times longer than an Airbus 380.

This year’s new class of container ship, the Triple E. It has gone into service June, 2013 it is the largest vessel ploughing the sea. Each contains as much steel as eight Eiffel Towers and have a capacity equivalent to 18,000 20-foot containers (TEU).

If those containers were placed in Times Square in New York, they would rise above billboards, streetlights and some buildings. They would fill more than 30 trains, each a mile long and stacked two containers high. Inside those containers,
you could fit 36,000 cars or 863 million tins of baked beans.

Bigger ships are more fuel efficient to move the same amount of cargo. Over the next 15 years about $2 trillion will be spent on new ships and upgraded ports for the shipping industry.

Malaccamax possible in 2030 with double the capacity and about 500 meters long able to go to 21 meter deep water

In the shipping industry there is already talk of a class of ship that would run aground in the Suez canal, but would just pass through another bottleneck of international trade – the Strait of Malacca, between Malaysia and Indonesia. The “Malaccamax” would carry 30,000 containers.

The previous ultra-large container vessels could navigate the Suez but they are only able to dock at a handful of the world’s ports. No American harbor is equipped to handle them. The sole purpose of Triple E ships is to run what’s called a pendulum service for Maersk – the largest shipping company in the world – between Asia and Europe.

Offshore port systems may be a chaper approach to allow the large ships to deliver to American and other ports.

Malaccamax is a naval architecture term for the largest size of ship capable of fitting through the 25-metre-deep (82 ft) Strait of Malacca. Bulk carriers and supertankers have been built to this size, and the term is chosen for very large crude carriers (VLCC). They can transport oil from Arabia to China. A typical Malaccamax tanker can have a maximum length of 333 meters, beam of 60 meters, draught of 20.5 m, and tonnage of 300,000 DWT.

Similar terms Panamax, Suezmax and Seawaymax are used for the largest ships capable of fitting through the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal and Saint Lawrence Seaway, respectively. Aframax tankers are those with a deadweight tonnage of 80,000 to 120,000.

Any post-Malaccamax ship would need to use even longer alternate routes because traditional seaways such as the Sunda Strait, between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra would become too shallow for such large bulk carriers.

Other routes would therefore be required:
Lombok Strait, Makassar Strait, Sibutu Passage and Mindoro Strait Ombai Strait, Banda Sea, Lifamatola Strait between the Sula Islands and Obi Islands, and Molucca Sea around Australia

Artificially excavated new routes might also be a possibility: deepening the Strait of Malacca, specifically at its minimum depth in the Singapore Strait, the proposed Kra Canal, which however would take much more excavation.

SOURCES – Maersk, Wikipedia, Marine science and technology, BBC News, Marine Insight