After months of speculation overseas about her alleged dimensions and capacity, $38 billion, Denmark-based Maersk Line—the Microsoft of the shipping industry—has officially launched the Emma Maersk, now the largest container ship on the planet. How large? For starters, she's a quarter-mile bow to stern (1,303 ft.), longer than the Saratoga or any aircraft carrier. The ship also reportedly carries the largest diesel engines ever manufactured.
More important, her capacity is estimated to be nearly 14,000 TEU, far and away the largest of the industry. (The company lists official capacity at a little over 11,000, but has a long history of under-reporting these figures for all its vessels.) Most Oakland-bound shipping vessels from Asia and other international ports are toting loads between 4,000 and 5,000. Now for the Microsoft comparison: Maersk already boats twice the overall fleet capacity of its nearest rival, and its parent company, A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, owns 40 container ports around the world. Why all of this matters? Maersk keeps expanding the economies of scale in shipping, a key driver of trade globalization. Emma cruises at an amazing 27 knots. More amazingly, she requires a crew of just 13. Result? According to the Financial Times, "it often now costs more to ship a container by road 100km from a port to its final destination than it does to move the container by sea from China to Europe." Maersk, meanwhile, is building 10 more sister ships, just like Emma.
According to the latest shipping schedule, the Emma Maersk recently passed through the Suez Canal, and the ship is currently in transit to Singapore, with a scheduled arrival on 3 December.
Emma Maersk Fact Sheet (PDF download): LINK
jtashipphoto.dk Emma Maersk Photo Gallery: LINK
(Photo above from jtashipphoto.dk; graphic above from the Times of London)