Date
23 August 2017
OOCL Hong Kong is seen docking at the Port of Ningbo last week. The monster ship is capable of carrying over 21,000 TEUs of containers. Photo: Xinhua
OOCL Hong Kong is seen docking at the Port of Ningbo last week. The monster ship is capable of carrying over 21,000 TEUs of containers. Photo: Xinhua

How a HK vessel became the world’s biggest container ship

A vessel built for Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) has earned the title of being the world’s largest container ship in terms of carrying capacity.

The new ship, measuring 400 meters in length, 60 meters in width and 191,317 tons in deadweight, is capable of carrying as many as 21,413 standard-sized containers, a new record in the global maritime industry.

The container ship, built by Samsung Heavy Industries at a facility on Geoje Island in South Korea, was christened “OOCL Hong Kong” at a ceremony on May 12.

To put the vessel’s gigantic size in perspective, it’s almost as tall as the 88-storey Two IFC building in Hong Kong’s Central district if the ship was to stand erect.

Gerald R. Ford, the flagship of the US Navy’s next-generation nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, is only 337m in length with a displacement of 110,000 tons, roughly half of that of OOCL Hong Kong.

The new OOCL ship is only 58m shorter in length than the world’s largest ship of all types, Seawise Giant, an oil tanker that has already been retired and scrapped.

OOCL Hong Kong is now the only one in its league of superships with a carrying capacity of over 21,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), of 6m in length each.

If the 21,413 TEUs that the ship can carry are lined together from stem to stern, the total length can be over 128 kilometers, roughly the length of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

While it holds the “world’s largest” title at the moment, industry observers believe it is just a matter of time before OOCL Hong Kong’s record is surpassed by another new container ship.

It’s expected that more 21-thousand-TEU-size superships will be built in the near future as global shipping firms try to out do each other in building ever-larger vessels. The more goods a ship can carry in one go, the lower the cost per TEU.

But right now, OOCL, which is controlled by the family of former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa, is basking in the spotlight, having set a new benchmark. 

Tung, Hong Kong’s first chief executive after the 1997 handover, had served as OOCL’s chairman in the past before he handed over the reins to his younger brother Tung Chee-Chen.

“This is a very exciting time for all of us because today marks the first time that OOCL is receiving new (vessels) in the 21-thousand TEU size,” C.C. Tung said at the christening ceremony of OOCL Hong Kong earlier this month.

The vessel is now on her 77-day maiden voyage, calling at a number of key container ports across Asia and Europe like Shanghai, Ningbo, Shenzhen, Singapore and Rotterdam.

The ship was received with much fanfare at each port of call as local authorities viewed her visit as a key milestone in port development.

Due to its monster size, the ship has to stop a few hundred meters off the berth and be towed by at least four smaller tugboats to dock. It also requires larger container cranes for loading and unloading of the containers.

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FC/RC

OOCL Hong Kong is 400 meters in length. If the ship was to stand erect, it would be almost as tall as the Two IFC building in Central. Photo: Xinhua


Comparison of the world’s three largest container ships so far. Photo: Alphaliner


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