Biggest Transport Ship In The World – The container fleet’s capacity is growing for the first time in many years. What do these new vessels look like? Will they continue to break capacity records? Are they more sustainable? We look at trends based on new ship orders from large shipping companies.
Carles Rúa is Director of Innovation at the Port of Barcelona and Director of the Executive Master in Supply Chain Management at UPC.
Biggest Transport Ship In The World
Javier Garrido is a researcher at the Center for Innovation and Transport (CENIT) and a PhD student at the Port of Barcelona.
World’s Largest Container Ship Is Delivered To Msc
In June 2022, Chinese shipyard Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding officially delivered Ever Alot, the largest container ship ever built, to Evergreen. With a capacity of 24,004 TEU, it is the first to break the 24,000 TEU barrier. The vessel was ordered in November 2019 and belongs to the A-class Evergreen, a series of 13 container ships ordered by the shipping company from three Asian yards. MSC Tessa, with similar dimensions to Ever Alot, but with a slightly larger capacity of 24,116 TEU, will be delivered shortly.
Will these two container ships set a trend for the industry? Will we continue to see bigger and bigger ships? What other news will come out of the yards in the next few years?
According to Alphaliner, in May 2022 there were around 900 container ships under construction or on order worldwide with a total capacity of 6.8 million TEU. The recent orders from the shipping companies give us an indication of developments in the sector.
In fact, according to VesselsValue, as many as 561 container ships have been ordered in 2021. Compared to 114 in 2020 or 107 in 2019, they mark a more than remarkable inflection with respect to the trends of recent years. These orders allow us to see how the market for new ships develops.
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On the contrary, the number of vessels to be scrapped has been reduced. In fact, during the first half of 2022, and for the first time in many years, the number of full-cell containers dismantled was zero. This contrasts with the 16,500 TEU taken out in 2020 or the much more substantial 194,500 TEU in 2019.
This decrease is due to current high freight rates. In other circumstances, ships with many years behind them would become unprofitable and sent to Asian shores for dismantling. However, at current shipping rates, they continue to make a profit for the shipping companies and therefore remain in business.
Supply of new vessels put into operation and reduction of scrapping will mean a significant net growth of the fleet in the coming years.
In 2023 we will thus begin to see a significant increase in the supply of sea transport which will be consolidated in 2024 and 2025. This increase will predictably be significantly higher than the growth in demand and will therefore have an impact on the market and possibly on the reduction of transport tariffs
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And all this despite the fact that in recent months the increase in the price of materials, mainly steel, and energy has increased the cost of building container ships by 30-35%, according to Alphaliner.
According to VesselsValue, up to 561 container ships were ordered in 2021, compared to 114 in 2020 or 107 in 2019.
The appearance of Maersk’s E-class in 2013 started a race among major shipping companies for larger ships. The capacity of the largest container ship now exceeds the capacity of the largest 10 years ago by 60%. Will this trend continue?
In the second half of 2020, a new wave of shipbuilding started. At that time it was concentrated in two extreme market segments: on the one hand “megamax” of around 24,000 TEU, and on the other, small feeders for the regional trade, especially in Asia.
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Looking at recent orders, from the second quarter of 2021, we can see a trend change with a focus on medium and large vessels:
This shows that in recent months more interest has been generated for the more versatile vessels compared to ULCS of more than 20,000 TEU. If this trend consolidates in orders for the next few years, it may mean that the current size of large ULCS is reaching its commercial, not technological, operational limit.
In fact, as already pointed out in 2020 in the scientific article “Predicting the Future Capacity and Dimensions of Container Ships”, no significant growth in the size of container ships is expected, with the estimated limit of 30,000 TEU for several reasons:
The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) decision to limit the sulfur content of marine fuel, which came into force in January 2020, and its ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050, means that ships must be driven forward. for new types of fuel.
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In addition, the European Commission, with its ambitious plan derived from the European Green Pact known as “Fit for 55”, is studying various measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime sector. These include the introduction of the latter into the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) and the “EU Fuel” initiative to introduce more sustainable fuels for ships.
Until now, the first transition fuel used commercially was LNG (liquefied natural gas). But even if it solves the first problem, it is still a fossil fuel. Long-term options focus on hydrogen and its carriers, especially methanol and ammonia, or electric propulsion. But what do the new ship orders tell us?
Obviously, battery electric propulsion can only be used, with existing technology, on smaller ships and on very short voyages, never for transoceanic voyages. An example is the 120 TEU container ship Yara Birkeland, which operates in Norwegian waters on a journey of just 18 km.
The six new CMA CGM ships will use dual fuel methanol engines. It should be remembered that CMA CGM had so far committed to LNG when in 2017 it announced the decision to operate nine new 23,000 TEU ships using this alternative fuel.
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However, the use of ammonia or methanol is so far anecdotal. The only commercially viable alternative fuel today is LNG. There are currently 36 container ships in operation using it as fuel, but 169 more are on the way. Instead, only a handful of methanol or ammonia compatible ships are planned.
And between methanol and ammonia, methanol seems to have the winning hand. In fact, major engine manufacturers such as MAN already have solutions available. On the other hand, ammonia engines are not expected until 2024 or 2025. This is due, among other things, to the challenges the latter presents with regard to safety and the high energy requirements for ignition.
On the other hand, what we can analyze from MRV Thetis and Lloyd’s data is that for ships with a capacity greater than 8000 TEU, CO2 per transported cargo is less than 20 g CO2/mton-nmille, thanks to the economies. of scale
This shows that large-scale shipping is beneficial and even significantly more sustainable compared to other forms of transport, such as trucks or airplanes that run on fossil fuels.
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For megaships of 24,000 TEU, however, the CO2 emissions per transported cargo unit are very similar to those of 14,000-16,000 TEU. This can also be affected by some medium-sized vessels adapting to alternative fuels.
In conclusion, it is important to note that the ideal size of the container ship will depend a lot on the total demand, which can vary significantly with the shipping company’s moving processes. It will also depend on the energy mix, which is affected by high volatility as a result of the technological changes that will come to meet climate change.
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Operated by Taiwanese line Evergreen Marine, the 24,000 TEU vessel arrived from Hamburg at the UK’s largest container port, Hutchison Ports’ port in Felixstowe, after commencing its voyage.