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The world’s largest container ships have more than 20,000 TEU carrying capacity in 2020. International Chamber of Shipping(ICS) counts 50,000 merchant vessels in the world vessel fleet. From the world cargo tonnage about 90% move using the sea transportation worldwide.
Out of the different types of vessels, Container ships (also known as containership, box ships) play a vital role in ocean cargo transportation. Container ships carry containerized cargo. One of the safest methods to carry goods by sea.
The container ships can categorize based on their capacity. . Presently, there are seven major types of container ships in service as Small Feeder, Feeder, Feeder max, Panamax, Post Panamax, New Panamax (Neo Panamax), and Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV).
The container ships have a history starting from 1956. Malcolm McLean created ripples in the cargo shipping industry by introducing the idea of containers for the first time. He has introduced the concept to reduce the movement of cargo while delivery and reduce the damages.
His concept has developed with time and the containers we use today have come into existence with dedicated ships to carry them. Since then, the race to build the most efficient container ships is on fire.
Container ships build in larger sizes to take advantage of economies of scale and reduce the expense of intermodal freight transportation. Maersk Line’s Tripple E class specially designed to focus on Environmentally improved, Economy of Scale and Energy Efficient.
Container ships are also subject to certain limitations in size. Availability of equipment and crane in the ports and terminals to handle containers, deep water depths of ports are some restrictions to consider.
Furthermore, some of the world’s main waterways such as the Suez Canal and Panama Canal also restrict the maximum dimensions of a ship that can pass through them.
The container ship capacity measures with TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit). In 2016, Prokopowicz and Berg-Andreassen defined a container ship with a capacity of 10,000 to 20,000 TEU as a Very Large Container Ship (VLCS), while that with a capacity greater than 20,000 TEU as an Ultra Large Container Ship (ULCS).
Why Ships are So Big?
Bigger the vessel, the higher the carrying capacity of a vessel. It gives a low per-unit cost to the ship operator. Higher the carrying capacity the lower the number of turns to carry cargo from origin to destination.
It also reduces the cost for ship crew, port charges as well the ship’s operating cost.
The hub and spoke concept for carrying cargo become popular and efficient thanks to the big ship fleet in the world.
Hence, big ships carry cargo to the selected few seaports (hub ports/ transshipment ports) and from there feeder’s vessels use to distribute cargo to the destinations by saving time for delivery and cost.
These hub ports are mostly the world busiest ports as the world cargo route via these selected ports
The largest container ship has launched in 2020 which belongs to the Algeciras class with a capacity of nearly 24,000 TEU.
Since the initial days, shipbuilders build bigger ships with the state of the art technology to meet the low unit cost with minimum environmental impact.
We will check the list of the world’s largest container ships operated by container shipping lines in 2020 based on their capacity in TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent units).
1. HMM Algeciras
HMM Algeciras, 1st vessel of 12 vessels with 23, 964 TEU capacity is the world’s largest container ship in the world. Algeciras class was added to the world shipping fleet by HMM. HMM or the Hyundai Merchant Marine is the world’s 9th largest container shipping line with its headquarters in Seol, South Korea.
HMM Oslo, HMM Gdansk, HMM Rotterdam, MM Dublin, HMM New Horizon, and HMM Hamburg are another 23, 964 TEU capacity of Algeciras class.
The vessel is Panama registered and built in the year 2020.
LOA: 400 m, Breadth: 61 m
2. MSC Gulsan
MSC Gulsan was the world’s largest container ship until the HMM Algesira was built. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) added 10 gulsan class vessels to its fleet followed by MSC Gulsan.
Vessels in Gulsan class are: MSC Samar, MSC Isabella, MSC Mia, MSC Leni, MSC Arina, MSC Febe, MSC Nela, MSC Mina, MSC Sixin and MSC Ambra. The MSC Gulsan vessel operates under the Panama flag with a carrying capacity of 23,756 TEUs.
The vessel was delivered in July 2019 and the production of Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea.
LOA: 399.9 m, Breadth: 61.5 m, Depth: 33.2 m
Further, the vessel has a 2,024 FEU capacity to carry refrigerated containers.
3. OOCL Hong Kong
OOCL Hong Kong was the largest container ship at the time it was delivered in 2017. Her capacity is 21,413 TEU and the first vessel to surpass the 21,000 TEU capacity and the third vessel to surpass 20,000 TEU capacity in the world.
The vessel is Hong Kong registered and operates under the fleet of Orient Overseas (International) Limited headquartered in Hong Kong. OOCL Hong Kong is the 1st vessel of its G class vessel fleet. Her deadweight is 191,421.9 MT.
LOA: 399.87 m, Breadth: 58.8 m
4. Cosco Shipping Universe
Cosco Shipping Universe operates under the Hong Kong flag. Her carrying capacity of 21,237 TEU. She could sail with a maximum speed of 22.3 Knots.
She has surpassed the world’s largest container ship record set by the sister vessel COSCO Shipping Virgo with a carrying capacity of 20,119 TEUs. Cosco Shipping Universe was developed to be green and smart by installing an intelligent system for the 1st time in a ULCS (ultra-large container ship).
Multiple cabin monitoring and alarm systems, and efficiency management, and closed-circuit television monitoring systems assist crewmembers to conduct real-time surveillance of the unmanned cabins and ship. Currently the 4th largest container ship in the world.
LOA: 400 m, Breadth: 58 m, Draft: 16 m
5. CMA CGM Antoine De Saint Exupery
CMA CGM Antoine De Saint Exupery sails under the flagship of France. She was built in 2018 and the biggest French-flagged container ship. The ship operates under CMA CGM and is currently the 5th largest container ship in the world.
Her maximum speed was reported as 23.7 knots. She was named after the pioneer of the Aéropostale, the writer and the poet, known for his values of humanism and responsibility. CMA CGM group operates the vessel with a carrying capacity of 20,9654 TEUs.
The ship has been specially designed to reduce its CO2 emission and increase the efficiency of fuel usage.
LOA: 400 m, Breadth: 59 m
CMA CGM ANTOINE DE SAINT EXUPERY entered into service on February 6th on the FAL 1 service (French Asia Line 1), the longest sea route in the world connecting Asia and Northern Europe.
6. Madrid Maersk
Madrid Maersk is the 2nd container ship to surpass the 20,000 TEU designed capacity following the MOL Triumph. She is sailing under the AP Moller Maersk vessel fleet and registered in Denmark.
Ship constructions were started in 2015 by the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea and launched in 2017. Madrid Maersk has a carrying capacity of 19,630 TEU even its designed capacity is 20,568 TEU.
Vessel belongs to the Triple E class. Her 1st port of call on the maiden voyage was Tianjin, China.
LOA: 399 m, Breadth: 58.6 m, Depth: 33.2 m
Madrid Maersk has a gross tonnage of 214,286 MT and her DWT is 206,000
7. Ever Golden
Ever Golden was the first of eleven 20,388 TEU vessels. Imabari Shipbuilding built the vessel in Saijo shipyard for Taiwan Shipping company Evergreen.
She has eco-friendly new generation machinery to reduce global warming. Ever Golden was built in 2018 and sails under the Panama flag.
Her DWT is 199,692 MT and gross tonnage reports as 219,079. She has a maximum speed of 24.1 knots. Former names of the vessel are EVER, BBAR GOLDEN, and EVFB GOLDEN 2.
LOA: 400 m, Breadth: 59 m
8. MOL Truth
MOL Truth built in 2017 with a carrying capacity of 20,182 TEU. She is sailing under the Panama flag with IMO number 9773210. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) registered in Japan operates and owns the vessel.
Ship construction was done in Saijo Shipyard of Imabari Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. MOL Truth was the 1st ship built in Japan over 20,000 TEU. She has a loading capacity of 20,182 TEU and sail under “THE” alliance.
Low-friction hull paint, a high-efficiency propeller and PBCF, a high-efficiency engine plant, and an optimized hull shape are some features of MOL Truth to minimise her environmetal impact while in operation.
These features will reduce CO2 emissions by 25-30% per container when compared to MOL-operated 14,000 TEU class vessels.
LOA: 400 m, Breadth: 58.5m, Depth: 32.9 m
9. MOL Triumph
MOL Triumph added to the world shipping fleet in March 2017 as the world largest container ship at the time. Samsung Heavy Industries Co., Ltd in South Korea has constructed the ship.
She has a capacity of 20,170 TEU and is deployed in THE Alliance’s Asia to Europe trade via the FE2 service. Her maiden voyage from Xingang, china to Europe via Suez canal was on April 2017.
MOL has construcetd another five of 20,000 TEU capacity ships to its fleet followed by MOL Triumph.
LOA: 400 m, Breadth: 58.8m, Depth: 32.8 m
Low friction underwater paint, high efficiency propeller and rudder, Savor Stator as a stream fin on the hull body, and an optimized fine hull form are some technologies use to redue the CO2 emission of the vessel.
10. COSCO Shipping Taurus
COSCO Shipping Taurus was the 1st 20,000 TEU ship ever built in China. The vessel is operated by the Cosco Shipping Corporation Limited (Cosco Shipping).
Currently, COSCO Shipping Taurus sails under the Hong Kong flag with a gross tonnage of 194,864 MT and a DWT of 201,868 MT
LOA: 399 m, Breadth: 58.6 m
COSCO Shipping Taurus became the world largest container ship at the time of construction by surpassing MV Barzan with a capacity of 18,800 TEU
World’s largest container ships in 2020 have been changed with the new container vessels added to the merchant shipping fleet. Check out the biggest containerships by the end of year 2021.