The Port of Felixstowe welcomed 105 calls last year by container ships of over 18,000 TEU, including all the largest container ships in the world. It is now firmly established as the UK port of call for these giants of the sea.
The year of mega-ships started in January with the maiden call of the CSCL Globe which, at 19,100 TEU capacity, set a new world-record as the largest ship then in service.
The record was short-lived however, the 19,224 TEU MSC Oscar pushed the bar even higher when it arrived at Felixstowe in March. June saw the maiden call of the first of United Arab Shipping Company’s (UASC) A-18 class vessels, the Barzan.
Although advertised as ‘only’ 18,800 TEU, the A-18 ships have a nominal capacity of 19,870 TEU. The Barzan’s sister-ship, the Al Nefud, became the 100th mega-ship of 2015 when it arrived at Felixstowe in early December.
Commenting on the growth in the size of container ships, Lawrence Yam, Commercial Director of Hutchison Ports (UK), said: “The container shipping business is intensely competitive. Ships of this size allow the operators to benefit from economies of scale and reduce the average slot cost of each container carried. These savings produce wider economic benefits by pushing down the costs of imports and making exports more competitive. More efficient ships also mean lower emissions per container reducing further the environmental impact of what is already the most environmentally friendly form of freight transport.”
The first 18,000 TEU mega-ship to call at Felixstowe was the Majestic Maersk, one of the first of Maersk Line’s Triple-E class, and in July the port played host to the naming ceremony of the Marchen Maersk, one of the last of the 20-vessel series.