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RECORD: Introducing the world’s largest container ship. Does it make sense?

PortandTerminal.com, July 5, 2019

The world’s largest containership has been delivered this week by South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries. Not everyone is convinced that bigger is better any longer when it comes to container ships.

SEOUL – The 23,000 teu MSC Gülsün was delivered this week after its completion at the South Korean shipyard Samsung Heavy Industries.

The Gülsün is the first container ship in the world to feature 24 rows across giving it up to 1,500 extra container capacity compared to the existing largest container vessels. The 202 foot wide (61.5 m) vessel is the first of 11 giant container ships that MSC is set to operate when they deliver from South Korea in the coming nine months.

The record setting MSC Gülsün was built at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea

Container ships have grown bigger at a rapid pace over the last decades, faster than any other ship type. In one decade, the average capacity of a container ship has doubled. The rationale for larger container used to be clear. Larger container ships generate cost savings for carriers through economies of scale and decreased maritime transport costs for shippers.

Container ship have increased in size dramatically over the past 40 years. How big is too big though?

Is it still worth building larger container ships?

Not everyone agrees that bigger is better any longer when it comes to container ships.

Søren Skou, the CEO of AP Moller-Maersk, told delegates at a shipping conference earlier this year that he had no intention of building larger container ships.

MSC Gülsün will require an additional four days of port time per rotation compared to Emma Maersk, which might result in either longer transit times or faster steaming

Andrew Lane, Shipping Consultant – Singapore

Skou said investments going forward would be elsewhere rather than on so-called megamaxes, a ship type he likened to Airbus’s A380 aircraft, which has proven to not be a commercial success. Skou observed that megamaxes are only suited for a few ports around the world.

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