The shipping industry plays a crucial role in global trade, accounting for about 90% of the world’s trade in goods. Currently, there are more than 50,000 merchant ships operating worldwide, transporting goods across the oceans. Container ships, which carry cargo in intermodal containers, are among the most popular types of vessels used in the industry. These ships are classified based on their carrying capacity, with Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCV) being the largest. The race to build the most efficient container ships began in 1956 with the introduction of the container ship by Malcolm McLean, and it continues today with new ships being designed to push the boundaries of physics.
In 2023, MSC Irina was launched and became the largest container ship in the world, with a capacity of 24,346 TEUs. It sails under the Liberian Flag and was built by the Chinese Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group. The vessel is 399.9 meters in length and has a molded width of 61.3 meters. MSC Irina has unique design elements to reduce fuel consumption, such as large diameter propellers and a system that generates air bubbles along the hull to reduce water resistance. Additionally, it has hybrid scrubbers that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3 to 4%. The ship’s maiden voyage included docking at Nansha Port. Its sister ship, MSC Loreto, shares the same carrying capacity and dimensions and is also sailing under the flag of Liberia.
Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) launched its first 24,188 TEU container ship, named OOCL Spain, which was built by Nantong COSCO KHI Ship Engineering Co. The enormous ship measures 399.9 meters in length and has a beam of 61.3 meters. On its maiden voyage, the Hong Kong Seaport Alliance welcomed OOCL Spain on 25th March 2023, setting a new record for the Hong Kong Port as the first container ship with a TEU capacity of over 24,000 to call the city. The ship is currently sailing under the flag of Hong Kong with a gross tonnage of 235,341 tonnes and is deployed on the company’s Asia-Europe Service LL3. It has been awarded the “Smart Ship” notation by the American Bureau of Shipping, which recognizes the ship’s intelligent technologies onboard that aid in improving fuel efficiency, enabling structural health monitoring, and maintaining high safety standards.
MSC Tessa is a massive containership built by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding for the Mediterranean Shipping Company. With a carrying capacity of 24,116 TEUs, it is one of the largest container ships in the world. Measuring 399.9 meters in length and 61.5 meters in width, MSC Tessa is sailing under the flag of Liberia. Its deck area is equivalent to four football fields, and the stacked containers can reach a height of 22 stories. MSC Tessa is equipped with a range of energy-saving features, including a small bulbous bow, energy-saving ducts, and large propellers. It also has hybrid scrubbers and uses air lubrication to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Classed by DNV, MSC Tessa has a molded depth of 33.2 meters. The vessel can carry over 240,000 tonnes of cargo and is expected to significantly improve the shipping capacity on its trade route.
In conclusion, the shipping industry is continuously evolving, with companies building larger and more technologically advanced container ships to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. The construction of these mega-ships is a testament to the advancements made in shipbuilding technology, and they play a significant role in the global economy by transporting goods across the world’s seas. With each new ship comes new records and milestones, marking a step forward in the progress of the shipping industry.