The world of maritime transportation has undergone a remarkable transformation. At the forefront of this evolution are the largest container ships, the giants of the seas. It is fuelled by the constant pursuit of efficiency and the ever-increasing demand for global trade. They are revolutionizing the way goods travel across continents.
These ships are huge, over 1,300 feet long, and can carry tens of thousands of containers. They represent the best in modern engineering and innovation. Because of their big size and ability to hold a lot, they’re crucial in today’s economy helping goods move smoothly in our connected world.
In the early days of container use, ships with a few hundred TEUs were seen as big. But, with growing global trade, we needed larger and better ships. In the 1970s, Panamax ships, holding around 4,000 TEUs, set a new standard. After that came Post-Panamax and New Panamax ships, pushing the limits of container ship sizes even more.
In the early 2000s, super big ships called Ultra-Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) showed up. These massive vessels, holding more than 10,000 TEUs, changed how shipping works. They can move huge amounts of goods across oceans efficiently. Today, the largest container ship is the MSC Irina, and it can carry a massive 24,346 TEUs. This shows how much maritime technology and engineering have advanced.
Criteria for Ranking
Container ships get ranked based on their size, measured in TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units). A TEU is a standard shipping container that’s 20 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8.5 feet high.
Bigger ships are usually seen as better because they can carry more stuff on each trip, cutting costs and being better for the environment. But, other things like how the ship is designed, how fuel-efficient it is, and what it can do operationally also matter in deciding the effectiveness of a container ship.
The World’s Largest Container Ships in 2023
In 2023, the world saw these largest container ships breaking records in size, capacity, and technology. Let’s explore the top 20 of these maritime giants:
The Titans of the Sea
MSC Irina, launched in March 2023, is the world’s largest container ship with a capacity of 24,346 TEUs. Sailing under the Liberian flag, it measures 399.9 meters in length and 61.3 meters in width. This giant ship is the first of six built by the Chinese Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group. MSC Irina and its sister ship, MSC Loreto, have smart designs to use less fuel, like big propellers, a system to make air bubbles and reduce water resistance, and hybrid scrubbers, cutting down carbon dioxide emissions by 3 to 4%.
MSC Loreto is a container ship with a capacity of 24,346 TEUs, launched in 2023 is one amongst the largest container ships in the world. This ship is one of six made by the Chinese Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group for the Mediterranean Shipping Company. MSC Loreto, flying the Liberian flag, has smart designs like big propellers and hybrid scrubbers to use fuel better and cut down on carbon emissions.
MSC Michel Cappellini
The MSC Michel Cappellini is another amazing ship in MSC’s fleet. It shows how dedicated the company is to pushing maritime engineering limits. With a capacity of 24,346 TEUs, it’s one of the largest container ships globally, sailing oceans super efficiently. Made in 2023 by Yangzijiang Shipbuilding in China, this sea giant is 400 meters long, 61.5 meters wide, and 16.5 meters deep, letting it move lots of cargo with great precision. Its name honors Michel Cappellini, a past MSC CEO who led the company to become a global maritime powerhouse.
OOCL Spain is the first of Orient Overseas Container Line’s ships to go beyond the 24,188 TEU limit. It had its first trip on March 25, 2023 and is one amongst the largest container ships in the world. Nantong COSCO KHI Ship Engineering Co. built this ship, measuring 399.9 meters in length, 61.3 meters in width, and with a gross tonnage of 235,341 tonnes. The American Bureau of Shipping gave it the ‘Smart Ship’ notation because OOCL Spain uses smart technologies for better operations, fuel efficiency, structural health monitoring, and high safety standards.
The ONE Innovation, a top ship of Ocean Network Express (ONE), shows the height of maritime ingenuity and innovation. It can carry 24,136 TEUs, making it one of the world’s largest container ships and changing global trade with its great efficiency and advanced tech. Built in 2023 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan, this sea marvel is 400 meters long, 61.5 meters wide, and 16.5 meters deep, letting it move through oceans with precision. Its name reflects the company’s strong focus on innovation, always changing the standards of maritime transportation.
Pioneers of Capacity and Design
Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding made MSC Tessa for the Mediterranean Shipping Company. It can carry 24,116 TEUs. With dimensions of 399.9 meters in length and 61.5 meters in width, it operates under the flag of Liberia and is one amongst the largest container ships in the world. The ship has energy-saving things like a small bulbous bow, energy-saving ducts, big propellers, hybrid scrubbers, and air lubrication. These help cut down on energy use and carbon emissions.
Ever Alot was built in 2022 by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group Co. It was given to Taiwanese Shipping Company Evergreen Marine and can carry up to 24,004 TEUs. It’s 399.9 meters long and 61.5 meters wide and is one amongst the largest container ships in the world. The ship has tech for better movement in water, letting it carry heavy loads fast and using less fuel.
HMM Algeciras is one of twelve eco-friendly container ships with a 24,000 TEU capacity while being one of the largest container ships in the world. It has the Panama flag, is 399.9 meters long, 61 meters wide, and 33.2 meters deep. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering built it. The ship has a scrubber system and a smart hull design to be better for the environment and use energy more efficiently.
Ever Ace, one of the largest container ships globally, can carry 23,992 TEUs. It started its first trip in July 2021. Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea made this huge ship, which is 399.9 meters long and 61.5 meters wide. Powered by a 2-stroke Wartsila engine, Ever Ace achieves a cruising speed of 22.6 knots.
HMM Oslo, built by Samsung Heavy Industries, is like its sister ship HMM Algeciras is one amongst the largest container ships in the world. It’s 399.9 meters long, 61.50 meters wide, and can carry 23,820 TEUs. Flying the Panama flag, HMM Oslo is one of twenty new eco-friendly container ships in HMM’s plan, focusing on following environmental rules.
Innovators of the High Seas
MSC Gulsun, one of the largest container ships worldwide, is run by the Mediterranean Shipping Company. It can carry 23,756 TEUs. Made by Samsung Heavy Industries and registered in Panama, what makes it remarkable is its wide breadth of 62 meters, allowing it to hold 24 container rows side by side. The design aims to increase container capacity while reducing the overall carbon footprint.
MSC Mina, part of the Gulsun class of container ships, works for the Mediterranean Shipping Company. It can carry 23,656 TEUs. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering built this ship, which is 399.8 meters long and 61 meters wide making it one of the largest container ships in the world. MSC Mina supports the company’s dedication to efficient and large-scale container transportation.
CMA CGM Jacques Saadé
CMA CGM Jacques Saadé is among the world’s largest container ships, holding 23,112 TEUs and using liquefied natural gas (LNG) for power. China State Shipbuilding Corporation built it, and it’s 399.9 meters long, 61.3 meters wide, and 78 meters high. This ship is one of nine in a series, showing the company’s focus on environmental sustainability.
OOCL Hong Kong
Launched in 2017 by Orient Overseas Container Line, OOCL Hong Kong was one of the largest container ships back then, going beyond 21,000 TEUs. Made by Samsung Heavy Industries, it’s 399.87 meters long, 58.8 meters wide, and 32.5 meters deep. It can carry 21,413 TEUs, and OOCL Hong Kong is crucial in linking East Asia to Northern Europe.
COSCO Shipping Universe
With a carrying capacity of 21,237 TEU, COSCO Shipping Universe is the largest cargo ship in China. Made in 2018 by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), this ship is 400 meters long and 58.6 meters wide. It has ABB Turbochargers to perform well and use fuel better. The ship is important for China’s One Belt, One Road initiative.
Setting the Standards High
CMA CGM Antoine De Saint Exupery
Named after the French author and aviator, CMA CGM Antoine De Saint Exupery is the largest container ship with the French flag, holding 20,954 TEUs. Constructed by Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction in the Philippines, it’s 400 meters long and 59 meters wide. The ship has modern eco-friendly features, like a new-generation engine, a Becker-twisted fin, and a system for treating ballast water.
Madrid Maersk is the first among eleven Second Generation Maersk Triple E-class containers, capable of holding 20,568 TEUs. Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering built it, and it’s 399 meters long and 58.6 meters wide. Maersk Line operates this ship, which goes beyond the 20,000 TEU mark, adding to the company’s widespread container shipping activities.
Operated by Ocean Network Express (ONE), MOL Truth proudly carries the flag of Panama. Built by Saijo shipyards of Imabari Shipbuilding Company Limited, this huge ship is 399 meters long and 58 meters wide. It has a deadweight of 189,766 MT and can carry 20,182 TEUs. MOL Truth uses advanced technologies, like low-friction hull paint, a high-efficiency propeller, and a high-efficiency engine plant, to lessen its environmental impact.MOL Triumph
Constructed in 2017 by Samsung Heavy Industries for Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, MOL Triumph is the first container ship in the 20,000 TEU class worldwide. It’s 399 meters long and has advanced energy-saving tech like low-friction underwater paint, a high-efficiency rudder, and an improved propeller. With a maximum cargo capacity of 20,170 TEU, MOL Triumph showcases innovation in large-scale container transportation.
Ever Glory, flying the Liberian flag, is a container ship that can carry 20,160 TEUs. It was built in 2019 for the Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine. Part of the Evergreen G Class, this vessel has a gross tonnage of 219,775 tonnes and a deadweight of 198,937 tonnes. Ever Glory is 400 meters long and 58.8 meters wide. It uses advanced technologies for better performance and less impact on the environment.
Technological Marvels and Environmental Considerations
The largest container ships globally, even though they have a significant impact on the environment, are seeing creative solutions to lessen their effects. The main progress is in cutting fuel use with new hull designs and propulsion systems.
- Air lubrication systems minimize drag, and waste heat is repurposed for onboard electricity.
- To improve air quality, ships have emission control systems like scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction. These systems significantly reduce emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
- Waste reduction strategies involve composting, recyclable packaging, and onboard waste treatment systems.
Efforts for sustainable shipping, like slow steaming, port electrification, and researching alternative fuels, continue to make the shipping industry more environmentally responsible.
The Future of Container Shipping
The future of container shipping is poised for continued growth and innovation. As global trade grows, the need for bigger and more efficient ships will continue. Shipbuilders and shipping companies are always pushing technology boundaries, looking into new designs, propulsion systems, and alternative fuels to make performance better and lessen environmental impact.
In the years ahead, we anticipate the arrival of even bigger container ships, able to carry tens of thousands of containers, sailing the oceans with improved efficiency and sustainability. These ships will remain crucial in the global economy, ensuring the smooth movement of goods that drive our interconnected world.
In summary, the largest container ships showcase human creativity, engineering skills, and the constant drive for efficiency in global trade. Their remarkable size, capacity, and technological advancements demonstrate significant progress in maritime transportation. Looking ahead, these ships will remain pivotal in linking nations, promoting trade, and fueling economic growth.