CSCL Globe

It’s 184,000 Tons, Longer Than The Shard And The Size Of Four Football Pitches – AND IT FLOATS! What Is It?......

The CSCL Globe – The World’s Largest Container Ship

Cargo Ships are in the news! In the same week that the 51,000 tonne car transporter, Hoegh Osaka, was deliberately grounded on the submerged Bramble Bank, (lying between Southampton and the Isle of Wight), when it began listing at an angle of 45 degrees, the biggest container ship in the world, the China Shipping Container Lines record breaking vessel, The Globe, docked in Felixstowe in the UK at 1pm on Wednesday 7th January 2015.

Her maiden voyage, from the Chinese port of Qingdao, had begun at the start of December 2014 and she continued via Port Kelang in Malaysia and the Suez Canal. With a multinational crew of 31 on board and escorted by 4 tugs, she nudged her way into dock at Felixstowe, across 2 berths, dead on time. The Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk is the UK’s biggest and busiest container port, dealing with over 40% of Britain’s containerised trade. The new deep-water berth at Felixstowe which opened in 2011 at a cost of £300m, is the only one in the UK capable of taking such a huge vessel.

The green-hulled ship was almost full to capacity with 10,095 containers, stacked 9 high on its deck and a similar number below decks. Seven ship-to-shore cranes were used to unload the 3,978 containers carrying goods destined for UK shops. These included soft furnishings and sofas, white goods such as washing machines and fridges, footwear and children’s toys.

In a world where “big is best”, here are some of the amazing specifications of this leviathan of a ship.

  • Length – more than 400m. The equivalent of 8 Olympic-size swimming pools.
  • Width – 56.8m. Wider than each of the runways at Heathrow.
  • Height – 73m
  • Gross tonnage – 186,000. The equivalent of 14,500 London buses.
  • Capacity – 19,100 standard 20ft containers, known in the industry as TEU, (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units). This is what makes the vessel a true record breaker – the estimated ability to carry 900 million cans of baked beans, 156 million pairs of shoes or 955 million clementines – enough for every person in Europe to have one in their Christmas stocking.
  • Although The Globe is the same length and slightly narrower than the world’s previous record holder, Maersk’s Triple-E class of vessels, the thing that makes The Globe special is that she sits 53ft deep in the water, giving her a much higher TEU capacity.
  • Laid end-to-end, the total number of containers would stretch for 72 miles, that is the distance from Birmingham to Manchester, or if they were stacked end to end on top of each other, they would reach 382,000ft into the air – more than 13 times the height of Mount Everest.
  • The Globe is the first of five ships ordered in a 700 million dollar contract by the Chinese company from the South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. It is designed to be more efficient and environmentally friendly that its predecessors and has a single 77,250hp engine that consumes 20pc less fuel than a ship about half her size.

3,909 containers will be loaded on to the vessel at Felixstowe, to replace those being taken off, but depressingly, nearly 80% of the containers being exported by the UK will only contain scrap metal, plastics and waste paper for recycling. Only one in five will actually carry British goods for overseas markets, such as precision engineering products, automotive parts and luxury items. The ship will then continue on its way to Rotterdam, Hamburg and Zeebrugge before returning to the Far East.

How much bigger?

When cargo container ships first became widespread in the 1950s, most could carry fewer than 1,000 TEU. By the 1980s they had grown to a capacity of 5,000 TEU; the so called Panamax vessels were the largest that could fit through the Panama Canal. The size of these ships is largely determined by the ability of the ports to handle such huge vessels and when the previously mentioned Maersk’s Triple-E class came into service last year there were as few as 16 ports in the world which could handle a vessel standing 20 storeys high. So although there is no theoretical limit on the potential size of these ships, the way they are operated might be a cause for concern. The loading process might take too much time as ships become bigger and more care will be required to load the cargo carefully and prevent damage. As the vessels get bigger they will also slow down, but slow steaming means they burn less oil. These factors will all have to be juggled and compared in the race to produce bigger and better vessels.

In fact The Globe’s record will remain for only a couple of months, by which time another bigger ship is due to arrive in Felixstowe, the MSC Oscar. This latest edition to the Mediterranean Shipping Company’s fleet, which is capable of carrying 120 more containers than the CSCL Globe, even though she is about 4 metres shorter, was inaugurated during the first week of January 2015 and will join the Albatross service by the end of the month.

The Future

It will be interesting to see what the future will hold regarding the size of modern container ships. There will undoubtedly be more incidents like the Hoegh Osaka’s mishap and they are not likely to have such a lucky outcome. As these vessels have greater capacity there is also more potential to lose some of their cargo. Those of us who are recreational sailors are very aware of the dangers of containers floating just below the surface.

There are definitely pros and cons and the seas and oceans are probably big enough accommodate all of us, no matter what our size…..for the time being at least.

Author - Dee White

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