The current record holder was commissioned by the South Korean shipping company Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and is the first container ship in a series of twelve other Megamax class vessels. Like the MSC Gülsün, the HMM Algeciras sails under Panama’s flag – the reasons for such “flag changes”, which are customary in the industry, range from tax advantages to more relaxed legal requirements in the respective countries.
The current leading colossus Algeciras started its maiden voyage in the port of Yantian in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. Its route included the port of Hamburg. With a container throughput of 26.5 million TEU in 2020, Yantian is the fourth largest port in the world. Only Ningbo-Zhoushan in China (28.7 million TEU), Singapore (36.8 million TEU), and Shanghai (43.5 million TEU), by far the largest representative, handle more containers. By way of comparison, container throughput during the Corona year totaled 8.5 million TEU in Hamburg, Germany’s largest seaport.
The 20 foot container is the ultimate benchmark
Like with many maritime specialties, there’s a reason for the “Twenty Foot Equivalent Units” container count, which can seem awkward to the laymen. In addition to the 20 foot long standard containers, there are also 40 foot containers that are twice as long (length 12.2 meters, maximum total mass: 30 metric tons). However, because they’re more unwieldy and allow less tonnage in relation to their volume, they’re used less frequently – for example for very long machine components. Therefore, when determining freight capacity, counting 20 foot examples is more practical. Incidentally, a “20 foot container” is actually only 19.88 feet long. This is because two of these containers placed in line with each other must be exactly as long as a 40 foot container. There’s a gap of three inches or 7.6 cm between them.
Ships are getting cleaner
It’s well known that these ocean behemoths, which are usually powered by marine diesel, i.e. a mixture of heavy fuel oil and diesel oil, don’t occupy top positions in terms of environmental compatibility. But there is another way: The CMA CGM Jacques Saade, which will enter service in September 2020, currently ranks third in terms of cargo capacity – and is the first giant ship to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Compared to traditional ship propulsion, it’s expected to emit about 25 percent less CO2, 85 percent less nitrogen oxides and 99 percent less sulfur dioxide. That’s good news for the environment, especially since the French shipping company CMA CGM has already ordered eight more giant cargo ships of the same design.