Is Bigger Better?
Posted on October 7, 2013
Dubbed "Triple-E", the vessel's dimensions are unprecedented: 400m long, as high as 20 storeys above the water line when fully loaded, her sheer size makes it difficult to grasp exactly how gigantic she is. Unsurprisingly, not every port will be able to accommodate her.
There are indeed only 13 ports capable of handling this oversized ship in the world at present, none in New Zealand. According to Maritime New Zealand, the largest ship NZ ports could accommodate is 5000 TEUs, 5 times less than the tonnage of the Moller-Maersk container vessel.
The Triple-Es may not be able to use current maritime shortcuts such as the Panama Canal, even after its upgrade, although there are plans to build a second route which would allow them passage. And while the Suez Canal is suitable, the Malacca Strait, a major shipping lane between the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, will remain out of bounds.
So with these constraints, why are shipping companies building ever bigger ships? The answer, of course, is in the volatile and rising costs of fuel. The Triple-E is named after it three key characteristics: energy efficient, environmentally friendlier and producing economies of scale.
These superships are equipped with engines designed to save energy. They are slower but are also alleged to use 35% fuel less and produce half the amount of carbon dioxide.
As fuel represents a significant percentage of the price of any manufactured goods, being able to stabilise or reduce shipping costs certainly sounds like a step that will help businesses around the world to keep costs under control.