Maersk have just launched the biggest shipping container ever made. 400 metres long, 59 metres wide and 73 metres high. There are 29 being made and they will be deployed on the vital Asia to Europe trade. The Triple-E class can hold 18,000 containers. Below is a video from the FT.
The Triple-E is about more than size, though. In fact the name refers to the three main purposes behind the creation — Economy of scale, Energy efficiency and Environmentally improved.
The Triple-E at a glance
*The Triple-E will emit 20% less CO2 per container moved compared to the Emma Maersk, currently the world’s largest container vessel, and 50% less than the industry average on the Asia-Europe trade lane.
*The vessels will be equipped with a waste heat recovery system, saving up to 10% of main engine power. *This equals the average annual electricity consumption of 5,000 European households.
*Triple-E vessels travel 184 kilometres using 1 kWh of energy per ton of cargo, whereas a jumbo jet travels half a kilometre using the same amount of energy per ton of cargo.
Deep Sea and Foreign Going is an account of a 5 week trip from Felixstowe in the UK to Singpaore. Rose George explains how on a train journey that most items of clothing, electronics, food etc are brought to the UK by ship. The reason being that shipping has become so cheap that it makes sense to import items. She uses the example of cod – it is less costly for Scottish cod to be sent to China to be filleted and then exported back to UK restaurants than it is to pay the (small) salaries of Scottish filleters. Some interesting facts from the review of the book in the Guardian Weekly:
* Containers are the largest man-made moving objects on the planet;
* Triple-E class boats are around 400 metres in length and can carry 18,000 boxes;
* In 2011, 360 commercial ports in America took in international goods worth $1.73tn – 80 times the total value of all US trade in 1960;
* Even in the UK, whose sense of itself as a seafaring nation has long waned, the shipping industry employs nearly 635,000 people;
* Port authorities inspect less than 10% of boxes, making them of great interest to counterfeiters and drug barons.
BBC business correspondent Alastair Fee boards a Chinese container ship off the coast of England and reports on the enormous size of it – holds 13,500 containers. And they are getter bigger. More than 40% of the UK’s sea trade comes into the Southampton Dock and to meet increasing demand from container ships a new 500 metre birth is being dredged. However trade goes the other way as in 2012 the demand for cars from the growing Chinese middle class saw over 20,000 BMW Minis make their way to Chinese ports.
The Economist and the Financial Times have recently looked at the impact of the container and container ships. With the first journey of a container ship in 1956 the cost for tonne of cargo was $0.16 per tonne to load—compared with $5.83 per tonne for loose cargo on a standard ship. Furthermore, according to The Economist, countries with container ports rose from about 1% to nearly 90% which coincided with the rapid increase in global trade – see graph. Although it could be said that other events were happening at the same time – the movement towards free trade and reduced tariffs, the single market in Europe in 1992 and the eventually formation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Video below is from the FT.