The world’s largest container ship, the CMA CGM Marco Polo, with a capacity of 16,000 20-foot-equivalent units, began its first voyage Nov. 7, sailing from Ningbo, China, en route to the northwestern European port range.
The U.K.-flag vessel, which was built by South Korea’s DSME shipyard, is the first of a series of three 16,000-TEU container ships ordered by French ocean carrier CMA CGM for its “backbone” FAL 1 Asia-Europe service. The delivery of the two sister ships is scheduled for 2013.
The three vessels will only be the world’s largest until June 2013, when the first of Maersk’s 20 EEE-class ships, with a nominal capacity of 18,270 TEUs, joins the Danish carrier’s fleet.
These extra-large ships are being delivered at a time when the industry is facing significant oversupply pressure, according to container market analyst Alphaliner.
Since the first container ship of more than 12,000 TEUs was delivered in August 2006, 115 vessels have been delivered, and a further 105 are on order.
By 2015, 16 ocean carriers will operate ships of more than 12,000 TEUs compared to nine lines currently, Alphaliner said. “This will set the stage for an intensification of the competition among the main carriers.”
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