New Ships Can Carry 22,000 Containers

Imagine a freighter the length of five football fields hauling electronics from port to port in 22,000 containers.

Super freighters measuring 1,500 feet long by 196 feet wide by 10 stories high move at the same speeds (24-26 knots) as typical freighters but reduce shipping costs by up to 40 percent. Built by STX Offshore and Shipbuilding, these ships have tremendous implications for the electronics supply chain.

For example, you can't berth this big baby just anywhere. Or, as my dad use to say, “You can't put two pounds of rocks into a one-pound bag.” The super freighters are so huge and sit so low in the water that ports have to be designed, sea beds dredged, and berthing and loading accommodations modified.

The Port of Rotterdam is doing that right now. Already the world's busiest import and export sea port, Rotterdam is working on a $4 billion project to accommodate the ships. It has already dredged 7 billion cubic feet of sand — a supersized project for supersized boats. The time-phased, three-decade port project is expected to make the first super freighter deep water dock available for operation next year.

(Source: STX)

(Source: STX)

When this project is complete in 2035, the port will be able to handle the largest ships and will have the capacity to handle 32 million 20-foot-equivalent (TEU) containers a year. In two months, it could handle enough containers to circle the globe. Currently, the port is handling about 12 million TEUs per year.

It is not just dredging and constructing that will make this high throughput possible. The new port will have technology placements that will be energy efficient, quieter, and smarter than current operations. Aside from filling a 66-foot deep ocean area of four square miles, the project will involve automated container vehicles powered by 13-ton rechargeable lead acid batteries. These all-electric shuttles, following transponders embedded in the pavement, will be quieter and cleaner than the current units requiring diesel fuel.

Think green
In handling and energy efficiency alone, the expected savings is anticipated to be about 50 percent. Also, the cranes now used for loading and unloading will be replaced with built-in hydraulic lifts.

The plan is to power the port with electricity harvested from windmills and two 1,100-megawatt coal and biomass plants that will capture most of their carbon dioxide. The port authority has launched a large-scale carbon-capture and storage program to put 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per year in exhausted undersea oilfields.

Just for grins, I calculated that, with 175 bicycles per container, the new super freighter will be able to transport 3,850,000 bicycles at a time. Part of my last job was to manage import shipments of settop boxes. One TEU could hold 6,000 of those. If I crammed the new 22,000-container super freighter with these cable boxes, I could move 132 million boxes at one crossing. I wish I had the commission on those.

22 comments on “New Ships Can Carry 22,000 Containers

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 30, 2013

    It is just amazing! Just imagining the gigantic size of such boats carrying 22000 containers ! and that also containing electronic parts and not those oil tankers! Wow!

    While the geometries of the electronic circuits are shrinking in geometric proportion, the scale of electronic business is multiplying in the same proportion.  That means the world of electronics has taken such a giant leap that electronic supply chain is now going to compete with those huge crude oil ships which were having the monopoly over the seas.

    It will be cheaper for sure, but the time taken for the shipments to reach the destination may be to carefully weighed against the money saved.


  2. ahdand
    May 30, 2013

    It is simply amazing for sure but how about the weight it can carry per container ? Is it the standard weight or does it have a specific limit on this ship ?  

    May 30, 2013

    I wonder what the 0-60 accceleration and MPG stats are like for this puppy?

  4. dalexander
    May 30, 2013

    @Prabhakar…The speed is the same as the smaller super freighters so the transient time is identical. The containers are the standard size and weight. The draft, how low it sits in the water when completely loaded is about 60 feet. The efficiency gain on per container shipping cost is 40%. The fuel consumption is the same as designs have improved. This is a win-win all around. Just the same, I would really like to see one of these giants in a port before offloading.

  5. dalexander
    May 30, 2013

    @Flyingscot…so good to hear from you again. These are great questions. I will find out and get back to you. I can call STX. They are in Korea. I will also ask about turning radius and acceleration and deceleration characteristics.

  6. Tom Murphy
    May 30, 2013

    Aside from Rotterdam, I wonder how many other ports will be able to host these ships?   NY, Hong Kong, LA?  Anyone know?

  7. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    May 30, 2013

    I tried to picture this in my mind but it is really hard! Five football fields. it saves to remind one that in a world where many products are going smaller and smaller, sometimes bigger can be better. I am wondering how this will affect logisitcal planning. if these ships will only be able to go into certain harbors it may be a difficult job to ensure that stuff gets wehre it needs to be. is that going to be the manufacturer or the manufacturing customer? I have talked to manufacturers for whom cargo delays were the biggest headaches they had.

  8. Himanshugupta
    May 31, 2013

    ha ha… i remeber an ad on TV inwhich a salesman is showing a yacht to potential buyers and he is explaining the features. Suddenly one man asks,”How much does it give”…which is a local slang which means what is the mileage…by the way the ad is for cars for a particular manufactures which claims that its cars give the highest mileage.


  9. hash.era
    May 31, 2013

    Truly amazing. Hope it wont sink like the Titanic did J     

  10. Clairvoyant
    May 31, 2013

    Safety standards are much higher with ships now-a-days. Also, I would think that the ship builder and ship owner would have many capabilities put into the ship to avoid sinking, considering how much their cargo would be worth.

  11. dalexander
    May 31, 2013

    @Clairvoyant…Yes. I thought of the ransom pirates could charge if they got one of these big boys. At some point, anti-piracy escorts might be warranted. I think the pirates would think twice if they saw a completely outfitted PT boat with every super freighter. A couple ship to ship torpedos and a dozen fifty caliber machine guns might add a discouragement factor. And, how about a shipboard drone that can watch the seas in a 25 mile radius? Now we're talking a good peacetime application for a drone.

  12. bfinnecy
    May 31, 2013

    Assuming that these ships one day make it to the US, do we have the existing rail capacity to disperse the containers?  Or what about highway systems and the increase in trucks needed to haul these?

  13. Mr. Roques
    May 31, 2013

    So the project is thinking ahead? not just this 22,000-cointaers ship. In 35 years, there may be bigger ships.

    What about the Panama Canal? They are expanding it, is this new boat the correct size?

  14. dalexander
    May 31, 2013

    @Mr. Roques…The Panama is 70 feet deep and so yes the canal can handle it.

  15. shikantaza.jl
    May 31, 2013

    The Panama Canal IS NOT big enough for new very large ships.

    The Panama Canal locks are 1000 feet (320m) long and 41 feet (12.5m) deep. It would require an enormous effort to build new locks and ensure the canal trenches are deep enough to permit passage of very large ships.

    These dimensions are part of the reason the US ceded the Canal to Panama: it is of only marginal strategic interest because aircraft carriers cannot fit the locks.

  16. dalexander
    May 31, 2013

    Not wide enough, 2014 remodel underway.

  17. Lavender
    June 2, 2013

    Does the remodel include worldwide port redesign and rebuilding to suit this superlarge ship? Can it be possible to see such port revolution?

  18. SunitaT
    June 22, 2013

    It will be cheaper for sure, but the time taken for the shipments to reach the destination may be to carefully weighed against the money saved.

    @prabhakar_deosthali, I agree with you. I think companies should use mix of bigger and smaller boats for shipments. This strategy will not only help them to save the cost but also help them to transport part of the shipment faster.

  19. SunitaT
    June 22, 2013

    if these ships will only be able to go into certain harbors it may be a difficult job to ensure that stuff gets wehre it needs to be.

    @Hailey, I totally agree with you. I think many majorts ports will need infrastructure upgradation so that these ships can enter them. At places where these ships cannot enter the ports we need to check the possibility of offloading the ship in mid-sea.

  20. hash.era
    June 30, 2013

    @Clair: Yes accidents are fewer for sure but the possibilities of things getting damaged is high. 

  21. matt212
    August 6, 2014

    These ships will be quite a sight, too bad they won't be able to come to any port. There are many people out there who would love to get just a glimpse at them. The kind of people who already own their own boats and always check out would really appreciate them.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.