How much bigger can container ships get?

Check out this superb article – click here – featured on BBC News Magazine‘s website –

What is blue, a quarter of a mile long, and taller than London’s Olympic stadium? The answer – this year’s new class of container ship, the Triple E. When it goes into service this June, it will be the largest vessel ploughing the sea. Each will contain as much steel as eight Eiffel Towers and have a capacity equivalent to 18,000 20-foot containers (TEU). If those containers were placed in Times Square in New York, they would rise above billboards, streetlights and some buildings. Or, to put it another way, they would fill more than 30 trains, each a mile long and stacked two containers high. Inside those containers, you could fit 36,000 cars or 863 million tins of baked beans.

The Triple E will not be the largest ship ever built. That accolade goes to an “ultra-large crude carrier” (ULCC) built in the 1970s, but all supertankers more than 400m (440 yards) long were scrapped years ago, some after less than a decade of service. Only a couple of shorter ULCCs are still in use. But giant container ships are still being built in large numbers – and they are still growing.

It’s 25 years since the biggest became too wide for the Panama Canal. These first “post-Panamax” ships, carrying 4,300 TEU, had roughly quarter of the capacity of the current record holder – the 16,020 TEU Marco Polo, launched in November by CMA CGM.

In the shipping industry there is already talk of a class of ship that would run aground in the Suez canal, but would just pass through another bottleneck of international trade – the Strait of Malacca, between Malaysia and Indonesia. The “Malaccamax” would carry 30,000 containers.

There are currently 163 ships on the world’s seas with a capacity over 10,000 TEU – but 120 more are on order, including Maersk’s fleet of 20 Triple Es. Source: BBC News Magazine


EU ‘green tax’ will hit South African exporters

At the expense of coming across a bit cynical – what exactly is the aim of the ‘carbon emission’ movement? We know it’s a United Nations initiative; that many politicians, ex presidents, scientists and climatologists warn against the use traditional energy sources and preach of cataclysmic consequences if we do not need heed their call; that it has become the latest excuse for more government imposed taxes; that the very mention of CO2 conjours up animosity between the rich and poor nations in much the same way as the mention of the WTO. Lets not forget there’s even a ‘Green Customs Initiative’ just so that we can all feel mutually inclusive.

An article just published by suggests that exporting from South Africa could become even more expensive if the country’s free-trade deal with the European Union (EU) is brought to an end and replaced by a shipping tax next year. The current trade deal removes tariffs on 98% of South Africa’s exported goods. Trade between the two regions creates around R400 billion (US$48bn) a year. Seems like taxation is the West’s latest answer to the failing WTO overtures on free trade!

At the United Nations conference on climate change in Durban, the EC will announce plans to tackle emissions. The proposed shipping tax, aimed at lowering carbon emissions, is expected to dramatically increase the cost of imports into the EU.

The EU’s envoy to South Africa, said shipping and aviation was a main contributor to carbon emissions.“That is why we are quite persistent that a shipping and aviation tax must be included in any deal that hopes to limit carbon emissions.” he said.

The EU has also sparked controversy over its plan for Emissions Trading Scheme that will apply to all airlines flying through its airspace from 1 January 2012.

One way or the other, SARS gets the monopoly on collecting the tax, regardless of its form.

For an alternative view on ‘green stuff’ read “The Recession Hits the Green Movement“. It’s perhaps a lot closer to the truth than all the ‘saving-the-planet’ stuff being dished up by the mainstream media.