Maersk Line goes large and slow to go green

The world’s largest shipping company has ordered ten fuel-efficient container vessels which will be the biggest and most fuel efficient ever built

The world’s largest shipping company has ordered ten fuel-efficient container vessels which will be the biggest and most fuel efficient ever built.

With capacity to carry 18,000 containers, Maersk Line’s Triple E (economy of scale, energy efficiency and environmentally improved) vessels will be 400 metres long, 59 metres wide and weigh 160,000 tonnes. They will be built in South Korea, will cost $190m each and should go into service from 2013.

By travelling at 19 knots instead of the typical 23, the vessels will use about 100 tonnes of fuel per day, which is roughly 50% less than the average on the Asia-Europe trade lane and 20% less than the existing best, the Emma Maersk.

Bill Hemmings of Transport and Environment, the European environmental NGO, told ENDS: “Ship speed and emissions have a cubic relationship... you get dramatic emission reductions by slowing down.

“The question is whether they ordered these new ships to pre-empt the pending fuel efficiency standards – the energy design index for new ships – that the International Maritime Organization will hopefully adopt in July.”

Further efficiency savings will come from a waste-heat recovery system. The ships are only marginally longer and taller than the current biggest container vessel. The almost 20% extra capacity comes from additional width. The company hopes to cut transport costs per container by 26%. 

“We could have made them longer but ports would have had to be enlarged,” said Eivind Kolding, Maersk chief executive.

The vessels have been designed for China-Europe routes. The only British port capable of handling them is Felixstowe.

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