Monster Machines: The World's Largest Container Ship

You won't have any trouble finding this Marco Polo in the pool — even with your eyes closed. Five Airbus a380s lined up nose-to-tail still wouldn't match the length, much less the overwhelming mass, of the world's largest container ship.

The CMA CGM Marco Polo is the largest container ship ever constructed, capable of transporting 16,020 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit, the standard of international shipping containers) of cargo — 820 more the Emma Maersk's previous record and a tenfold capacity increase from the 1980s. At 400 metres long and 54 metres wide with a 16m draft and 187,625 dead weight tonnage, it's also the largest human construct to ever move across the planet's surface. It's larger than both the Queen Mary 2 and the Charles de Gaulle, even America's Nimitz-Class super carriers. Slap the Empire State building and the Eiffel Tower together — this ship is still bigger.

Built by South Korea's DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering) and operated by CMA CGM, a French shipping company, the Marco Polo entered service in November of last year. It transports goods along the French Asia Line (FAL1), an international shipping route that runs from Shanghai, through the Mediterranean, and up the coast of Western Europe to Hamburg.

Despite her massive size — or rather, in spite of it — the Marco Polo is designed for efficiency. The hull incorporates a twisted leading edge rudder which reduces drag. It's single 108,920HP Wartsila-Sulzer engine features electronic timing that reduces fuel and oil consumption by 3 and 25 per cent, respectively. Plus, the ship's Exhaust Gas Bypass system nets a 1.5 per cent fuel savings when it's manoeuvring in and out of port.

The Marco Polo is this size for a reason — trade. Sea routes are still the most efficient means intercontinental shipping and until we get around to inventing teleporters, that isn't likely to change. As such, the Marco Polo is only "the world's biggest movable thing of all time" for right now. Ship builders are already hard at work constructing two more 16000 TEU vessels for CMA CGM which should be making their maiden voyages later this year. What's more, Danish firm Maersk is looking to take back the title with an even more immense, 18,000 TEU titan scheduled to set sail in 2015.

[Daily Mail - Spiegel - Wikipedia - Marine Log - CMA CGM - Shipping Watch]

Picture: AP


    I wonder how many security-firm soldiers you'd need to protect that thing.

    An impressive beastie - but the Seawise Giant still holds the record for largest ever ship I think?

      Yeah its 458m so a fair bit larger, though the article was about the biggest container ship which the Seawise Giant is not.

    Andrew: Check your facts, it isn't that hard with the internet....

    AS Attila notes, Mont / Knock Nevis / Seawise Giant / Happy Giant / Jahre Viking, was a LOT Bigger


    This ship is big compared to a toothpick, but would be dwarfed by Jahre Viking....
    Seawise Giant dimensions. Baby Marco Polo

    Tonnage 564,763 DWT 187,625 DWT
    Length: 458.45 m (1,504.10 ft) 396.0 m
    Beam: 68.8 m (225.72 ft) 53.6 m
    Draught: 24.611 m (80.74 ft) 16.0 m
    Depth: 29.8 m (97.77 ft) 29.9 m

    There we have a comparison.... the 'Mont' kicks ass.

    The Batillus class Tanker were also larger:

    Tonnage: 555,000 DWT

    LOA: 414.22 m (1,359.0 ft)
    LBP: 401.10 m (1,315.9 ft)
    Beam: 63.01 m (206.7 ft)
    Draft: 28.5 m (94 ft)
    Depth: 35.92 m (117.8 ft)

    Cheers, not OCD at all...

    Last edited 18/01/13 7:33 pm

    And the Sobotkas will steal half the cargo.

      It's all in the game.

    I wish they would compare the size to something more relevant, like the Titanic for example.

    Statistics alone did not convince me initially about how massive this hauler really is. However, the illustrations depicted by the pictures of a car and an airbus to further illustrate the size of this giant container ship, really help to clarify my doubts indeed. The comparison made is so significant and it gets easy to visualize the ultimate magnitude.

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