HONG KONG — The world’s largest container ship, the 19,100 TEU CSCL Globe, sailed into the British gateway Port of Felixstowe this week to make its maiden European call in a loop that will include Rotterdam, Hamburg and Zeebrugge.
Felixstowe is the only U.K. port that can handle vessels the size of the China Shipping Container Line flagship that is the first of five ships to be deployed on the Asia Europe Express service this year.
Asia-Europe is the only trade able to accommodate the mega-vessels and ports at both ends have been investing in equipment and yard space to handle surges in container volumes that are associated with each call.
Clemence Cheng, chief executive officer of Felixstowe, said the port was the major gateway for trade between the U.K. and China and was continually expanding its facilities and adding container cranes.
“This enables us to turn even the biggest container ships around as quickly as possible, providing first class service to our customers,” he said in a statement.
After Europe, CSCL Globe will return to Asia, calling at Qingdao, Shanghai, Ningbo, Yantian and Port Kelang.
The CSCL Globe was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries' shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea. While it currently enjoys its heavyweight position as the biggest container ship in the world, by the end of the month it will be in second place behind MSC Oscar when the 19,224 TEU vessel is deployed.
Zhang Zhendong, managing director of China Shipping (U.K) Agency, said the Port of Felixstowe has been the carrier’s U.K. port of call since the service was started 16 years ago.
“It has grown with us and continues to be the best location from which to serve the crucially important U.K. market,” he said.
Felixstowe is the largest container port in the U.K., with annual throughput of 3.7 million TEUs. It was the fifth-most-productive European ports in 2013, according to JOC Group’s port productivity data, with an average of 68 berth moves per hour.