Biggest container ship sails into Singapore

A swimming pool onboard the ship. The container ship was custom-fitted with various features that make it more energy efficient. -- ST PHOTOS: NURIA LING
A swimming pool onboard the ship. The container ship was custom-fitted with various features that make it more energy efficient. -- ST PHOTOS: NURIA LING
The Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, the world's largest container ship, making its maiden call at Singapore's port yesterday. It leaves today for China. -- ST PHOTOS: NURIA LING
The Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, the world's largest container ship, making its maiden call at Singapore's port yesterday. It leaves today for China. -- ST PHOTOS: NURIA LING

The world's largest container ship made its maiden call at Singapore's port yesterday.

The 400m-long Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller is longer than the Eiffel Tower laid flat and weighs 60,000 tons empty.

The US$185 million (S$232 million) vessel can carry 18,000 20-foot containers and can transport the equivalent of 182 million iPads, or 144 million pairs of sneakers.

The ship is deployed on a Maersk Line route connecting Asia to Northern Europe via the Suez Canal.

It leaves Singapore today for China's Yantian port.

A.P. Moller-Maersk is Denmark's largest company, and one of the world's biggest shipping companies.

The Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, named after the shipping company's former chief executive officer and the son of its founder, is the first of 20 'Triple-E' class vessels the company has ordered.

It was built in South Korea and custom-fitted with a range of features that make it more energy efficient and help save on shipping costs per container, said Maersk Line's Asia-Pacific chief executive Thomas Knudsen.

It has a wider hull and more full-bodied design than other container ships so more cargo can be carried.

The ship is designed to travel at a maximum speed of 23 knots, or 43kmh, which increases fuel efficiency and reduces carbon dioxide emissions. Most container vessels have a maximum speed of 25 knots to 27 knots.

A waste-heat recovery system, which converts heat from the engines into electricity, will also save up to 10 per cent of the ship's engine power.

As a result, the vessel will consume about 35 per cent less fuel per container compared to ships with less capacity, said Mr Knudsen.

As recently as last year, Mr Knudsen cautioned that it was 'not a good time for shipping', as the industry was plagued by an oversupply of ships and persistently weak global trade.

However, the company is optimistic that its hefty investment will pay off in the long term, he said yesterday. He noted that the prospects for trade are now looking up on the back of a gradual recovery in major economies like the United States and Europe. Asia-Europe trade is expected to grow at 2 per cent to 3 per cent this year, led by 'strong rebound of volumes in the Mediterranean'.

'The second half of the year is clearly looking better than the first, driven by positive momentum in the euro zone.'

Mr Tan Puay Hin, regional chief executive for South-east Asia at PSA International, said Singapore's port is well placed to handle ships of this size.

'Our continual investment... has levelled up our readiness to manage the high volumes and complex hubbing operations these ships will bring,' he said.

chiaym@sph.com.sg