Just a few months ago, the world witnessed the blockage of the Suez Canal by the mega ship named Ever Given. The 400m-long, 220,000-tonne ship became wedged diagonally across the canal on 23 March after running aground amid high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility
The Ever Given was freed six days later after salvage teams used dredging and tugboats to move an estimated 30,000 cubic metres of mud and sand.
The transportation of goods via sea has always played an important role in world trade and the demand for shipping continues to grow, along with the size of the container ships used
to transport goods, with the average size of a vessel being 5 time bigger than it was just 20 years ago. There are now over 133 ships that have a carrying capacity of between 18,000 – 24,000 containers. These are classed as mega ships – the biggest boats in the world!
Mega ships, like The Ever Given, have become very attractive in international shipping because of economies of scale – the larger the ship, the more efficient it is for transporting goods. Ships like The Ever Given can carry 20,000 containers, whereas other large cargo ships can carry a maximum of just 9,000 containers. Using one cargo ship to transport a similar load of 2 smaller cargo ships considerably saves on fuel, reducing the cost of transportation per container and helping to reduce the ship’s environmental footprint.
However, the introduction of mega ships isn’t without its issues and problems. Due to their sheer size, some shipping routes are impassable, and some port quays are not deep enough. Investment is required by ports to accommodate these mega ships and whilst some have already invested significantly, others are yet to do so, which means there are still many limitations with regards to routes on which these ships can operate.
Mega ships are here to stay and look like they will continue to increase in size in the future. Investment from ports will be required to accommodate these mammoths of the sea now and in the future.