CSCL Globe began its maiden voyage just over a year ago and the shipping monstrosity still remains one of the largest container ships in the world. Measuring more than 400m in length, longer than the Shard is tall, the cargo ship can hold around 19,000 standard sized containers and arrived in Felixstowe on Wednesday 7th January 2015 as the first ship of its kind to transport that many goods in a single journey.
The vessel is so great that it is too wide for the Panama Canal and too tall for all US ports. A ship of this size would not have been able to dock in the UK had Felixstowe not made investments on its deep water berths which reopened in 2011. The ship was, however, dispatched of its title of largest container ship in the world only a month later by the 19,224 container bearing MSC Oscar.
A year on, container lines have received provisional figures for their 2015 financial results and the prognosis isn’t looking great; the final quarter for 2015 was fairly disastrous within the industry. CSCL said it expected a loss of around $450m, within which $129m is impairment losses on its ships. The CSCL Globe, the super-sized flagship for the carrier is now worth only $143m in comparison with $158m a year ago. The Chinese government has also announced that CSCL’s container business will be merged with state-owned COSCON possibly as early as March.
These super-sized vessels are so important within the freight industry, however, with 6000 of these ships delivering up to 95% of the world’s trade annually in more than 20m containers. To send a container from Hong Kong to the UK it can cost as little as £3,500, with the cost decreasing as vessel size increases, and so remains an efficient and effective way of delivering goods around the world. Though while container ships will continue to get bigger, the question remains of how long it will be until ports can no longer hold them. With current machinery within ports, these giant ships can be unloaded in just a couple of days compared with a couple of weeks when the process was manual so perhaps the ports, like the ships, will also continue an increase in efficiency.
The maritime industry is vital to the world economy; in the UK alone, roughly 262,700 people are employed and nearly £2.7bn of tax revenue is generated per year. Ships the size of the CSCL Globe are a part of the industry’s development, and now ports just have to make sure they can keep up.